How to Help Kids Sleep Better

You know what your kids are like when they don’t get enough sleep. For babies and young children, it can result in crankiness, crying, and tantrums. For older kids, it can mean moodiness, fogginess, and difficulty focusing. If your child is exhibiting these symptoms, he or she is not alone. Many children have trouble getting the recommended amount of sleep for their age. But don’t worry. It’s never too late to instill great sleep habits in your kids. If you’re looking for help getting your kids a full and restful night’s sleep, here are some helpful recommendations from the sleep experts at ZzzQuil.

Sleep tips for babies

Try the eat-play-sleep cycle.

If you notice your baby routinely takes naps for longer than two and a half hours or if your baby is extremely fussy when put to bed, the eat-play-sleep cycle may help. To transition to this cycle, feed your baby immediately upon waking. Then, play until your baby shows signs of sleepiness. Once he is sleepy, put your baby down to sleep. Repeat throughout the day. On this schedule, your baby may take shorter naps—about one hour. Because hunger will wake the baby, he or she will be more prone to taking a full feeding and less prone to wake-up fussiness.

No more long naps.

It’s never easy to wake a sleeping baby, but letting one sleep too long may mean a sleepless night for both of you ahead. If your baby has been asleep for more than two and a half hours and shows no signs of waking, try gently waking your infant with light music or gentle touch.

Add white noise.

Some babies can sleep through an earthquake, but for light sleepers, a white noise machine can help mask disruptive everyday noises, like a ringing telephone or the sound of a squeaking stair. White noise also has soothing, calming properties, so it can be especially helpful for a baby who gets irritable when in a crib.

Keep it consistent.

You know your baby best, so if you have a schedule that works for the two of you, try to stick to it. If your baby is in day care, follow the day care’s feeding and nap schedule on the weekends so your baby always knows when it’s time to be fed and when it’s time to go to sleep.

Sleep tips for young kids

Create a bedtime routine.

Try doing something your kid enjoys at the end of the day, like reading a story together or listening to a few of your favorite (soothing) songs. This helps make bedtime something to look forward to and gives consistent cues to your child’s brain that it’s time for bed.

Regulate screen time.

Playing video games, watching TV, and using an electronic tablet at night can be disruptive to the body’s circadian rhythm. The bright light from these screens signal to the brain that it’s still daytime and time to be awake. Try to keep screens out of the bedroom and have at least two hours between screen time and bedtime. (Hint: If nighttime screens are unavoidable, like for doing homework, try using them in “night mode” or downloading a yellow light application for the computer and smartphone. This will give the screen a less intense light, which has been shown to have less of an impact on circadian rhythm.)

Get outdoors during the day.

Kids who spend most of their day indoors may not have a smoothly functioning circadian rhythm. Getting outside for even a few minutes when the sun’s out helps the body regulate its internal sleep-wake cycle, and it’s even better if they can do some physical activity, such as bike-riding, when outside.

For a kid who has trouble falling asleep, consider melatonin.

For kids who are naturally restless sleepers, melatonin may help them fall asleep Melatonin is a sleep hormone (in children and adults) that the brain makes in conjunction with the sleep-wake cycle. It helps make the brain feel calm and sleepy. PURE Zzzs Kidz Melatonin Gummies, a non-habit-forming, drug-free sleep aid, can be added to a child’s nighttime routine to enhance this calm and sleepy effect (for ages 4+).

Sleep tips for teenagers

Keep up the good work from childhood.

Limiting screen time, getting outdoors, and having a great bedtime routine are still vitally important for your teen. The brain and body go through major changes in the teenage years, so getting enough rest is more important than ever. If your teen is still having trouble falling asleep, PURE Zzzs Kidz Melatonin Gummies is a great option.

Teach great sleep hygiene habits.

Teens are old enough to start taking control of their own sleep habits, but it’s never too late to teach them good ones! Knowing how to practice great sleep hygiene is knowledge that will serve them well throughout life.

Encourage exercise and good nutrition.

While some of your kid’s meals and exercise habits may be out of your control, like meals at school or at a friend’s house, encourage your teen to consistently exercise and eat nutrient-rich foods. Exercise and good nutrition will help your teen feel awake and refreshed during the day and sleep through the night.

Avoid letting your teen “catch up” on sleep on weekends.

A teenager who likes to snooze the day away on Saturdays and Sundays is probably not getting enough sleep throughout the week. Not getting enough sleep on weeknights and then oversleeping on weekends will wreak havoc on the body’s ability to know when to wake and when to sleep, which can make one feel wired instead of tired at night and groggy instead of alert in the morning. While sleeping in an extra half hour won’t have a huge effect, keep your teen on a consistent schedule throughout the week.

Whether your kid is a newborn or a teenager, sleep is vitally important for a growing body and brain. If you notice your child is lethargic during the day or overly energetic at night, give these tips a try. If your child isn't sleeping well, here is what you should know.