Dealing with Sleep Issues
Nearly every parent you interact with in any setting will agree that sleep is so important for kids. Without the right amount of sleep, our little angels quickly can turn into emotional animals. Some babies start sleeping through the night early on, and others can take a long time. As much as we wish it, children don’t fall into one neat box when it comes to how much sleep they need and the best way to get them to sleep. Although there is no fool-proof method, here are some proven tips to improve your child’s sleep.
Create a bedtime routine. That having an established bedtime and a routine have a positive effect on our children’s being good sleepers is no surprise. The bedtime routine should be relaxing and can include things like a shower or bath and books. Bedtime should be close to the same time every day, whether weekday or weekend. A bedtime that varies more than one-and-a-half hours from the norm can cause a big struggle for many kids (WebMD.com). Make sure the room is dark and at a comfortable temperature.
Plan food and drink. Avoid any type of caffeine at least six hours prior to the bedtime routine. Caffeine can be found in some surprising items such as chocolate, so be aware of what kids are ingesting. A small snack close to bedtime is usually fine, but large meals should be finished hours before bedtime (WebMD.com).
Anticipate needs. Before putting your child to bed for the night, anticipate his needs. Does he get up for drinks of water throughout the night? Put a cup of water beside his bed. Take one last trip to the bathroom, give hugs and gather any item he may want to sleep with. Try to limit excess trips out of bed (Parents.com).
What About Melatonin? More and more parents are turning to melatonin to help their child get some needed sleep. Melatonin is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the impact on children is still unknown, especially long term (Health.USNews.com). Studies have shown that melatonin does have fewer side effects than most other sleeping medicines, but it has not been shown effective for all individuals (WebMD,com). Because not much information regarding melatonin’s safety and dosage for children is available, call your physician with specific questions regarding this over-the-counter medication.
Many children may struggle to get to sleep in the evening, but some suffer from actual sleep disorders. With more than 40 accredited pediatric sleep centers around the nation, treatment options are becoming more widespread. Speak with your physician if you feel like you need extra assistance.
Jessica Heine is a labor and delivery nurse. She lives in Olathe with her family.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.