Choosing the right bedtime can be tricky, it is true that every child is different and their sleep needs may vary. However, the one thing that is universal for all children is the need to receive 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. This may mean having an earlier bedtime during the weekdays due to school; while on the weekends it is acceptable to allow your children to go to bed around 9:30 pm. As a parent, it is up to your discretion to select an appropriate bedtime for your child, after all, you know them best.

Once you have selected a bedtime, you face the next issue, actually getting your child in bed and asleep. Most kiddos are not ready and willing to hop into bed at 7 or 8 o’clock, especially older teens. How do you make the transition into bedtime smoother? Dr. Khiela Holmes offered a few tips during a recent interview. 

  1. Create a bedtime routine and stick with it. Your nightly system may vary from child to child. However, consistency is key, select a time and stick to it. 
  2. Begin getting ready 30 min before their actual bedtime. This will set the tone and allow your child to relax.
  3. It is helpful to remove all electronics an hour before bedtime. Including television, iPad, Xbox, and cell phone. Allowing these electronic devices so close to bedtime can overstimulate the brain, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
  4. Set the example as the parent. Your children will mimic your actions, be sure they are ones that promote healthy sleeping habits.
  5. You want to make sure your child is relaxed and calm before bedtime.

Relaxing your child can be a challenge in itself; especially if you as a parent are stressed.

Dr. Holmes also listed a few ways to help your child relax as the night is winding down:

  •  Participate in exercise two hours before bedtime
  •  Yoga and stretches are also a great tool for calming the mind
  • Read a bedtime story once your child hops into bed. Ensure you don’t read anything too overly stimulating like a mystery or action book. Instead, head towards the relaxing reads that won’t get your child’s mind up and wondering.

Looking for more sleep tips? Check out Dr. Holmes' article on how to help your anxious child overcome sleep problems to learn more.

Don’t forget to get in touch with the Arkansas Families First team if you need some help developing a good bedtime transition strategy. We offer a range of services to support kids and families in our Conway and North Little Rock clinic locations.