Losing sleep over your child’s sleep, you’re not alone. The reality is that sleep problems in children are common and even more common in kids with autism, developmental disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. As a parent, you know that sleep problems can affect the whole family creating stress and lost sleep for parents too.
What are some common sleep complaints?
Crying at bedtime or refusing to go to bed unless a parent stays with them moving to their parents bed during the night. Sleeping in car seats, strollers and basically anywhere but their own bed.
Here’s the good news. Many sleep problems can be improved if not completely resolved with simple changes to the bedtime routine and environment. Sleep hygiene means good habits that promote sleep. Here are our top tips for good sleep hygiene.
- Make sure bedtime and morning wake up is around the same time each day including weekends.
- Keep bedrooms cool, comfortable and dark. Here’s a tip: if you can read a book. The room is too bright.
- Beds are for sleeping not playing or watching TV or playing on tablets or devices.
- No drinks or food with caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
- No big meals right before bed.
- Try relaxing activities in the evening to wind down a warm bath or reading are good bets.
- Keep the bedtime routine activities in the same order every night so it’s predictable. Make sure it’s enjoyable and short.
- Here’s the big one. Keep screens out of the bedroom. There is research saying that devices in the evening make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Remember, talk to your child’s family doctor if you have any concerns about your child’s sleep. Some medical conditions cause sleep disturbances and medications can interfere with sleep too. So it’s very important to speak with your child’s doctor about these concerns. If the sleep hygiene changes aren’t improving their sleep, ask about having a sleep behavior assessment.