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Eight Sleep Tips for Every Child

From The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley

Up to 70 percent of children under age five have sleep problems. Sleep issues are complicated and have many causes. They're hard to deal with because when children aren't sleeping, parents aren't sleeping, and that lack of sleep affects every minute of every day for every person in the family because lack of sleep isn't just about being tired. Sleep has a role in everything -- dawdling, temper tantrums, hyperactivity, growth, health, and even learning to tie his shoes and recite the ABCs. Sleep affects everything.

The following ideas are of value to almost any sleeper, of any age. These tips can bring improvement not only in your child's sleep, but also in her daytime mood and last, but not least - improvements in your own sleep and outlook as well.

  • Maintain a consistent bedtime and awaking time
    Your child's biological clock has a strong influence on her wakefulness and sleepiness. When you establish a set time for bedtime and wake up time you "set" your child's clock so that it functions smoothly.

  • Aim for an early bedtime. Young children respond best with a bedtime between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Most children will sleep better and longer when they go to bed early.

  • Encourage regular daily naps
    Daily naps are important. An energetic child can find it difficult to go through the day without a rest break. A nap-less child will often wake up cheerful and become progressively fussier or hyper-alert as the day goes on. Also, the length and quality of naps affects night sleep - good naps equal better night sleep.

  • Set your child's biological clock
    Take advantage of your child's biology so that he's actually tired when bedtime arrives. Darkness causes an increase in the release of the body's sleep hormone -- the biological "stop" button. You can align your child's sleepiness with bedtime by dimming the lights during the hour before bedtime.

    Exposing your child to morning light is pushing the "go" button in her brain - one that says, "Time to wake up and be active." So keep your mornings bright!

  • Develop a consistent bedtime routine
    Routines create security. A consistent, peaceful bedtime routine allows your child to transition from the motion of the day to the tranquil state of sleep.

    An organized routine helps you coordinate the specifics: bath, pajamas, tooth-brushing. It helps you to function on auto-pilot at the time when you are most tired and least creative.

  • Create a cozy sleep environment
    Where your child sleeps can be a key to quality sleep. Make certain the mattress is comfortable, the blankets are warm, the room temperature is right, pajamas are comfy, and the bedroom is welcoming.

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