How to get your children to sleep

Are the sleeping habits of younger kids penalized by our current lifestyle? And what are the behaviours that should be avoided to prevent sleep disorders in our children?

Extracurricular activities

Involving children in too many extracurricular activities could be one of the causes. Kids need serenity, even boredom sometimes. Extra activities should be limited to one, maximum two weekly commitments, and possibly at least one of these should be a sport activity.

Too much Technology

It’s hard to decide to go to sleep if you have at hand a computer to chat and surf the net, or a console to play. The more technological gadgets available to children, the less their desire to go to bed at night. Accordingly, it is strongly recommended not to put a TV in the kids’ room, and this rule also applies to computers, which can be moved to another room at bedtime. Is there a “golden rule”? Every hour spent on a technological device must be paired with an hour spent outdoors, better if exercising.

Caffeine

Giving children caffeinated beverages, even in a little amount, must also be avoided. We must keep in mind that caffeine may also be present in bottled tea, as well as in chocolate, coffee ice creams, and even some medications. Food and beverages containing stimulants such as guarana are also banned.

Nightmares

Nightmares, which can disturb and interrupt child sleep, are often caused by events happened in their everyday life. Through nightmares, children can process and give meaning to real or imaginary fears. The best approach to manage the nightmares of our children is to "be there": saying comforting words, holding them in our arms, and then putting them back to bed.

Health

If a child has an agitated sleep, often wakes up in the middle of the night, or snores loudly, it may be necessary a health check up. Most likely one of the problems could be represented by sleep apnoea, a disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep.

Food

Lying down after a big meal and/or too close to bedtime is considered to be one of the causes of sleep disorders in adults and children. Consuming excessively salty food, which causes frequent interruptions in the sleep due to thirst, can also be related to sleep disorders.

Environment

A too cold, too hot, too bright or too loud environment can certainly affect child sleep. We therefore must check that pyjamas and blankets are not too heavy or too light, and try to make their rooms as quiet, intimate and pleasant as possible during the evening hours.

Credits: Pianeta MAMMA

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