We know the basics: early bedtimes, soothing music, getting junior to settle himself to sleep. But many of our kids still struggle with sleep problems. Perhaps try a scientific approach. Trick her body into producing sleep hormones, or providing it with proteins that promote sleep, may work better than any gadget or lullaby.
Get Rid of the Blues
Your phone, TV and computer all emit a blue light reminiscent of daylight, and the more your child looks at it, the more her body will respond as if it’s daytime. Some tablets and smart phones have apps that filter out blue lights, and computers can be fitted with a screen that does the same thing. Also be sure that any night lights have a red glow, not green, white, or blue.
Make a Bat Cave
“Why do you think bats congregate in caves for their daytime sleep?” asks the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. If your child is going to sleep before deep dark night descends, he might not be secreting the hormones that tell him it’s time to sleep. Try dimming the lights one full hour before bedtime, and use heavy blackout curtains once in the room. Some experts even suggest putting on sunglasses as bedtime approaches…if you can get them to wear them.
Rise with the Roosters
Good sleep is not just about how long you’re out. It’s also about your circadian rhythms, the internal clock that tells your body when it’s time to rise and time to rest. One way to reset that clock is to rise with the daylight, and expose your child to sunlight as early as you can. Bad news for those of us dying to sleep in.
Eat Early, Snack Late
While no one likes going to bed hungry, sleep scientists also caution against eating an overflowing meal minutes before slumber. Instead, they suggest eating a regular meal several hours before bed and then supplementing with a light snack right before story time. Don’t forget to brush teeth after, of course.
Ice Up the Room
Many of us have heard that it’s better to sleep in a cool room, but we don’t necessarily know why. Your body knows it’s time to sleep when the temperature starts to descend—the same way it knows bedtime comes with the sunset. Making your child’s room as cool as 60 degrees helps signal that bedtime is coming and can help a body release melatonin. There are even self-cooling pillows that can help you stay cool and sleepy all night.