Everyone knows that having a good sleep schedule is important. It is when you sleep that the body and mind rest and reset. It is not always easy for family members to all achieve a good sleep schedule.
Parents stay up late finishing chores or simply aiming to get a few minutes of “me” time. Kids have school programs, events, sports and homework that can push bedtimes to be at the very least, inconsistent. So, how can your family achieve an improved sleep schedule?
1. Be as consistent as possible.
There are many things that can interfere with a regular nightly bedtime. Be mindful of the importance of a steady bedtime though. Calculate the ideal number of hours of sleep your children (and yourself) need. Then, choose a bedtime and wake time that will help you reach those requirements. Refer to the CDC for recommendations on sleep hours by age.
2. Adjust naptime.
Naps can be beneficial for families. The brain can benefit from brief daytime naps, decreasing fatigue and increasing alertness. When kids nap, it can also give mom and pops a few minutes to regroup throughout the day. However, the timing of a nap is crucial. Afternoon naps can lead to difficulty going to sleep at night. So, keep it brief (15-30 minutes) and keep it early.
3. Create a nighttime ritual.
A bedtime ritual does more than help prepare a family for sleep. A typical nighttime routine may include taking a bath, getting into pajamas, eating a healthy snack, brushing teeth, and reading a book before bed. These actions, each provide developmental benefits in addition to preparing the family for sleep. They can help establish lifelong habits of nutrition and hygiene and even promote bonding.
4. Co-Sleep in a bigger bed.
Co-sleeping is controversial, as it has both benefits and risks. That being said, studies have shown that it is a fairly common practice. If you bedshare, a larger bed provides more bed surface for sharing. Alaskan King beds are the largest size available in most cases, at 108” wide and long. Sleeping in this larger size, or others, can help minimize sleep disruption caused by movement of others in the bed. This in turn, may help everyone fall asleep faster and stay on schedule.
5. Everyone goes to sleep at the same time.
It is tempting to want to cherish a few minutes to yourself after the kids go to bed. However, having lights on around the house and noises, even slight noises, can disrupt your kids’ sleep. Plus, kids who know their parents are up, may be less apt to go to sleep on their own for fear of missing out on something that’s going on. Try laying down for bed and waking up at the same time as the kids in the home do.
Work schedules, school and other activities sometimes creep into the evening and can delay sleep from time to time. The good news is that there are things you can do to improve the sleep schedule for your family. Even incorporating just one of these tips can make an impact. With just a little conscious effort, you can help your family get and stay on a good sleep schedule.