No matter your goals, getting better sleep will help you crush them. Have plans to learn a new skill? Sleeping better can help. Want to be more patient with your kids? Good sleep is key. Are you focused on getting in better shape? Sleeping enough is critical.
If you are exhausted because your baby or toddler is having trouble sleeping, I first want you to know that you are not alone. Many parents want to change something about their child’s sleep. The good news is there are some quick and easy things you can do tonight to help improve your bedtime situation and get everyone sleeping all night long.
5 Tips for Better Sleep
1. Chose an early bedtime
Early bedtimes are critical to laying the foundation for healthy sleep habits. Infants, toddlers, and school-aged children need 11-13 hours of sleep at night, so ensuring your child gets to bed early – especially on school nights – will help them reach that goal easily. Not only that, but we sleep most deeply during the hours before midnight. Maximizing those hours before midnight can be super helpful for getting that rich, restorative rest our bodies need to heal, grow, and develop.
2. Make it DARK
Light, natural or artificial, sends a message to our brains that it’s daytime and not time to sleep. Melatonin production – the hormone that helps us fall asleep and stay asleep – is triggered by darkness, so start turning down the lights an hour before you put your child to bed. This is most important when considering electronics, which emit a blue light that is particularly adverse to baby’s shut-down process. If you want your little one to sleep better at night and nap like a champ during the day, making their sleep space pitch black will help those zzz’s come more easily.
3. Turn down the heat
Not only is darkness helpful for sleep quality, but the temperature is also an important consideration. It is common for parents (especially new ones) to obsess over their baby’s comfort and constantly worry about whether or not they are warm enough. Like their grown-up counterparts, babies sleep best when they’re warm and snuggly in a cool environment. A warm nighttime onesie, a wearable blanket or a sleep sack, and a cool nursery, somewhere between 61°F and 72°F (18°C – 21°C) is the best way to ensure that baby remains comfortable through the night.1,2
4. Be predictable
A well-planned, consistent bedtime routine is conducive to a good night’s rest (regardless of age). Once our bodies and brains start to recognize the signals that indicate an upcoming bedtime, we start physically and mentally relaxing. Energy levels wind down, melatonin production kicks in, and muscles begin to loosen. By the time you’re giving your little one a goodnight kiss, their system should be all set for a long, restorative sleep.
5. Make sleep a priority
With most things in life, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wishing things were different but not taking steps to make it so. If your little one struggles in the sleep department, consider whether they are set up for success with consistent opportunities for daytime naps, predictable routines, an optimal sleep environment, and nighttime expectations they can rely on. Children learn what we teach them, so the ball is in our court.
But you don’t have to navigate the confusing world of baby sleep alone. There are online sleep resources, courses, and sleep consultants to help you make sense of your child’s sleep habits and set you on a path to success. Sleep is too important to ignore, so if you and your family have issues, let’s take care of them!
Here’s to getting some good sleep!