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7 Things Not to Do Before Bedtime ! Must Read

Without a good night sleep children are more likely to experience difficulties paying attention in school, managing their emotions, and handling daily stresses.  At an extreme difficulties falling asleep can lead to childhood insomnia. When, however, kids sleep well and are able to sleep independently they wake up in the morning with all of their resources intact, ready to face the day. They feel confident that they can do it, and they start to enjoy the winding down process of bedtime. Because sleep is so important for kids and evening downtime is so important for parents every moment of sleep is precious. Here are 7 things not to do because they can interfere with sleep and create child sleep problems…

1) Don’t use electronics right before sleep. Many children like to fall asleep to television, but television can actually interfere with the ability to fall asleep and to sleep soundly. Research shows that even the light from a bright alarm clock can be enough to keep us from falling asleep (face clocks away from the bed). And some electronics like computers and video games are mentally stimulating which keeps the brain from winding down.

2) Don’t eat or drink caffeine within 5 hours of bedtime. We all know that it is not good to have sugar or caffeine before bed, but did you know that it is important to stop caffeine consumption 5-10 hours before bed. Of course it may be a good idea to limit children’s caffeine intake for health reasons and to reduce anxiety or agitation. Look for hidden sources of caffeine like coffee ice cream and cappuccino yogurt. 

3) Don’t exercise within 2 hours of bedtime. Cardiovascular exercise can help children sleep well, but if it is too close to bedtime it can interfere with sleep. If your child experiences significant sleep difficulties consider limiting sports teams that require night practices or games. Light stretching and yoga-type activities before bed are no problem and can help the body to relax and promote sleep.

4) Don’t skip a winding down routine. Sometimes it gets late or our kids seem very tired so we’re tempted to put them right to bed without a book or other part of their bedtime routine. While it may seem like this will be helpful it often backfires because the child has not experienced the wind-down benefits of his or her bedtime routine.  

5) Don’t take a warm bath or shower within 1 hour of bedtime. Contrary to popular belief a warm bath can delay sleep. The reason is that we become sleepy as our body temperatures dip down. A warm bath raises body temperature and can delay the onset of sleepiness. When possible do warm baths an hour or two before bedtime.

6) Don’t play in bed for a while before bedtime. We want to teach our child’s brain and body to associate bed with sleep. The more they are in bed awake doing things other than sleep the less strong this association will be. Bring your child into bed for stories or other wind-down activities, but do not have them play in the bed for hours before bedtime. Encourage your teenager to not lie in bed and watch television or text before going to sleep.

7) Don’t wait to worry at bedtime. Often the worries and stresses from the day catch up to us at bedtime when our brain finally gets a break. Rather than waiting for the worries to strike at bedtime get ahead of them by spending some time with discussing worries with your child a few hours before bed. Simply writing down all the worries in our minds can be enough to gain perspective over them and take away their power. Select a few of the worries that may require problem solving with your child. For example if your daughter worries that she will forget to bring her homework to school the next day you can review that she has completed it and placed it in her backpack.


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