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Dealing with the Bedtime Blues

Do you dread the bedtime fights with your toddler?

Have you noticed a shift in your child’s behaviors during the day? 

Insufficient or disrupted sleep can lead to an increase in disruptive behaviors and meltdowns during the day. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends 10-13 hours of sleep per night (including naps) for children ages 3-5 years old. That means children in this age range should go to bed between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm if they get up between 6:00 am and 8:00 am in the morning. 

While it may seem to be an easy method of helping your child go to bed, tablet time during or at bedtime can lead to sleep disturbances especially in young children. Mayo Clinic identified that children are more likely to have difficulty falling asleep and develop an irregular sleep schedule with increased screen time. 

Developing Positive Sleeping Habits

To assist your child with developing healthy sleep habits, consider the following:   

  • Develop a wind-down routine for your child. Young children do best when they follow a predictable schedule. Ensure your child has adequate time at night to follow their routine including brushing their teeth, getting a drink of water, and reading a story to assist them with settling down before bed. 
  • Your child’s bedtime area should be dedicated to sleep. Ensure that toys are put up and not kept in or near the bed so that the child isn’t able to play with them at bedtime. 
  • Screen time should be limited in the hour before bedtime. Studies show that screen time can keep them awake and reduce sleepiness. Avoid allowing your child to sleep with a tablet or television on. 
  • Chart your child’s sleep patterns and if they are certain days where they struggle to fall asleep or are tired during the day, consider what is different on those days.

If you are noticing unusual emotional behaviors during the day, examine your child’s bedtime routine and sleeping habits. Many times, shifts in mood or behavior may increase when a child is not getting adequate sleep.

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