School age kids function best when they get adequate rest. Creating a healthy sleep environment can help your child fall asleep more quickly and get better rest throughout the night.
We all know that sleep tends to be a huge deal when our children are babies. It’s understandable, though. Sleep is such an important part of their routines and development that even strangers are interested in it. When we’re out and about, people will actually ask, “How is she sleeping?”
They tend not to do that with your 9-year-old or teen.
It’s also easy to focus on it because a baby’s sleep habits (or lack thereof) affect our own so greatly. Those glassy-eyed, so-tired-it-hurts moments for newborn parents aren’t a myth; it’s such a real thing that you celebrate when they reach the only-waking-once-or-twice-during-the-night milestone.
After our little ones have, for the most part, mastered bedtime, it can feel like sleep issues are over for good. But just because our kids are able to lay down and hit the hay without screaming for you at all hours of the night doesn’t mean that we should ignore their sleep needs. School-aged children, in particular, can benefit big-time when we set them up for a successful night’s sleep.
ROUTINE IS STILL IMPORTANT FOR OLDER KIDS
We realize how important it is for babies to have a nightly routine to help them set their internal clocks and provide a sense of consistency. The same thing applies to big kids.
As children get older, you may want to streamline the overall routine, but do what works best for your family. A bath and some reading, music and meditation, setting intentions or saying prayers – whatever you choose, make it a habit. This will help your child ease to sleep and better avoid those too-late nights and early morning grumps.
CHOOSE BOOKS OVER SCREENS NEAR BEDTIME
The blue light found in electronic devices severely interfere with our body’s ability to calm itself to the rhythm of sleep. Books (or even magazines and comics) can have the opposite effect and calm us down with just the right mix of mental stimulation and quiet story contemplation.
Why is blue light so bad? As shared by this Harvard Health study, “Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.” This blue light will affect children and adults alike. So, best to nix the devices at nighttime.
CREATE A CALM SLEEPING ENVIRONMENT
Do you ever notice that you have a hard time slowing your brain down if you’ve got a cluttered, busy bedroom? The same goes for kids. By having children pick up their toys and put dirty clothes in the hamper as part of their evening routine, they’ll be setting themselves up with a calmer space.
Consider diffusing lavender (here’s how to safely use lavender with babies and kids) for your child and make sure that any lights you use in their room at nighttime are soft. And, of course, a favorite stuffed animal or two and soft blanket offer an inviting, cozy cocoon for relaxing.
IMPROVE THE AIR QUALITY IN YOUR CHILD’S ROOM
Make sure there are no chemical air fresheners in her bedroom, and consider adding plants. Plants provide oxygen and certain plants are known for their air purifying properties. This way, you can improve the air quality and introduce a greater concept of nature to your children, all without having to plug something into the wall. Open windows occasionally to release any off-gassed toxins from the room. In addition to letting in fresh air, this will help circulate the air in the room, cutting down on toxins and other lingering elements.
USE MEDITATION TO COUNTERACT A BUSY DAY
If your child has a difficult time winding down, guided meditation might be the perfect trick. Since meditation can be a challenge for even adults to practice, a guided meditation instead tells the person exactly what to picture and focus on while allowing their body and mind to relax.
If you’re not sure how to get started with this, check out our archive of guided relaxation meditations, each with a different themed script to help you conduct your child through mental visualizations and to reach a deeper calm.
CHOOSE A SAFE, NONTOXIC MATTRESS
Just as the proper resource makes it easier to conduct research so do the proper tools make sleep easier. From comfy pajamas to a fluffy pillow, a humidifier to a favorite book, setting your child’s bedtime experience makes falling asleep far easier.
And obviously a bedtime experience isn’t complete without a bed. So often we offer hand-me-down beds to our children, but it’s actually quite important for children and teens to have a mattress that offers the proper support, chemical-free materials, and cushioning that their growing bodies need. Many conventional mattresses are treated with flame retardants that can build up in the body. You can learn more about the effects of these and how to reduce your family’s chemical body burden.
The best way to avoid flame retardants and toxins in the first place is to choose an all-natural, organic cotton or natural wool mattress for your child. We recommend Naturepedic, an Ohio-based company specializing in all-natural, hypoallergenic materials, including organic cotton and natural wool. Naturepedic goes beyond GOTS certification and has strict standards to provide only the safest mattresses. Not only are their individual materials certified, but the finished mattress is also certified.
Not only will your child sleep soundly on a safe, comfortable mattress; you can rest assured knowing that they’ll be receiving the proper support needed to help them attain the hours of sleep their growing bodies need.
With how many hours (8-12, depending on your child’s age) spent sleeping, it’s so important to do all we can to make the most of the time spent in bed.