Promoting Good Sleep Habits For Your Child

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Conventional wisdom says most people require eight hours of sleep per night. But for children, it’s really closer to 8-10 hours. Their growing bodies and active lifestyle makes it even more crucial for them to get sufficient shut eye, but how do you get them to get on board?

Here are some tips for promoting good sleep habits in your child. Follow these guidelines, and bedtime should get a whole lot smoother, we promise:

  • Schedules. Children do well with order and schedules, and being able to predict what comes next. Find a routine that’s right for your child in the evenings, and stick to it. Over time, their bodies will be conditioned to power down.
  • Mind the thermostat. Temperature plays a key role in promoting good sleep. The body’s internal thermostat naturally lowers during sleep. It’s impossible to nail down the precise temperature because it varies from person to person, but it’s safe to assume it may fall in the 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit range. Just be mindful that the room isn’t too hot or too cold when your child settles in, as a comfortable bedroom environment could mean a more restful sleep.
  • Limit light. The darker the better, as any illumination interferes with your child’s biological clock. To the degree that they’re comfortable with darkness, limit light exposure as much as possible.
  • Don’t relocate them during the night. If your child is agitated, it’s natural to want to bring him or her into your own bedroom, but fight the urge to transfer. Bringing them into your bed means they won’t easily transition back into their own, and it conditions your child to expect this immediate rescue.
  • Limit physical activity. A spike in movement or physical activity close to bedtime also means a spike in heart rate and endorphins – both of which will make sleep more difficult. The calmer your child is before bed means the less the body has to adjust to stillness and rest.
  • Squash sugar and heavy foods. It’s hardly a mystery that sugary foods mean a spike in energy, and if you’re not willing to wait around for a long time for the inevitable crash to follow, you may want to say no to any pre-bed sweet snacks. Similarly, overly rich or heavy foods will make sleeping more difficult, and can even cause reflux in some children.
  • Bath time = sleepy time. Activities like bathing, reading a story or getting into their pajamas condition children into getting into the “bedtime” mindset when done with repetition. These consistent activities provide the best clues to your child that it’s time to power down.


If your child continues to have issues with his or her sleep, be sure to talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. To find a Henry Ford pediatrician, visit henryford.com/findadoc.

Categories: FeelWell