Whether you have changed work shifts, the school year is starting, or you simply believe your children need more sleep, introducing an earlier bedtime can be a stress-inducing endeavor. You know what is best for them, but they may have an entirely different idea once you begin implementing the new time. By using a nightly routine, you can help them make the transition more smoothly.
Give your children a small snack that is comprised of a high glycemic food. In February 2007, “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” reported that foods high in glycemic value produced a feeling of sleepiness in research participants. High glycemic foods mean high in carbohydrates. Be sure to choose healthy carbs for your child’s snack, such as a slice of whole-grain bread spread with peanut butter. The snack should be provided one to two hours before retiring.
Give the child a warm bath and have him dress in pajamas when finished. A warm bath will not only induce a relaxed state of mind, it will instill a routine that signals it is time to get ready for bed.
Encourage quiet, light activities in the 30 minutes leading to the new bedtime. Heavy activity can create arousal and the child will not be sleepy when the time for bed comes. Introduce quiet discussion, reading books or other activities that dovetail with the pending quietness of going to sleep.
Leave the bedroom once you have put the child to bed. If the child calls for you, check to see that there is no emergency, then leave the room immediately to convey that it is now bedtime and time for sleep.
Move the bedtime up five minutes each night until you have achieved the desired time for your child to retire for the night.