Sleeping Tips for Older Kids
I was one of those people who could run off of fumes instead of sleep as long as I had a day in sight where I could catch up. Even those early days of new parenthood where that age-old question, “When will they sleep?!” was swirling around in most parents’ heads, I could withstand sleepless nights knowing eventually I’d make it up. Until I couldn’t. And until my usually amazing and predictable sleepers couldn’t either. I’d read the stats and of course I know that most Canadian adults aren’t sleeping well or enough. In recent years and for a number of reasons, both of my kids started having difficulty falling asleep. Things have started to improve in that department and although I am by no means a sleep expert, I would like to share my sleeping tips for older kids in case they are helpful for other formerly good sleepers and as advice for others for what not to do in the future…
Sleeping Tips for Older Kids
Damn the Devices
In a perfect world our kids wouldn’t be so attached to their phones or devices. And we all know how they stimulate our brains and make it difficult to switch off. When my kids were younger we had a “no phones after dinner” policy. As they got a bit older that became more difficult to enforce. At the very least now we insist on at least 30 minutes of wind-down time and their phones are charged overnight NOT in their bedrooms. Old school alarm clocks are in place so there’s no, “But it’s my alarm clock, too!” protests to overcome. At one point we had to keep the phones in our bedroom since they’d try to sneak down to the kitchen to retrieve them. Too bad their mom is still a night owl.
Lose the LEDs
If you’re old enough to have kids who want/have the LED light strips in their rooms, you’re old enough to understand the Seinfeld Kenny Rodgers Roasters reference. Ironically, the red would probably be the best colour to have in their rooms if you’ve agreed to allow the lights. According to the Better Sleep Council, LED and blue lights at night disrupt our biological clocks. One of my sleeping tips for my daughter is to switch her LEDs to red or amber in the evenings. Even pink or purple is a little too “blue” to help shut down at night.
Bring the (White) Noise
I was a latecomer to the white noise machine, and now I can see the folly of my ways. White noise machines drown out ambient sounds of the house that might be either scary (we live in an old, creaky house) or otherwise horrifying for a kid and parent (eg. grown up time). At first I thought it would be hard for them to fall asleep without it if we traveled or if they had a sleepover. Sleepovers haven’t been an issue (not that we’ve had many/any in the past few years) and during travel it’s the one time phones are nearby during sleep so they serve as the “travel” white noise machine.
To Snack or Not to Snack
I always thought bedtime snacks were not great however it turns out if a kid is growing (and sleep helps you grow, by the way) a decent snack is helpful to fall asleep. Way back when Lianne Phillipson of Sprout Right shared with me that, “Oatmeal is a slow release carbohydrate, that is well liked and digested easily. Milk is also a sleep-inducing food containing both tryptophan and calcium for restful sleep.” A bowl of cereal with milk is our usual M.O. around here. And we avoid any sneaky sources of caffeine as well since some sports drinks contain it (my son plays hockey).
At the very start of the pandemic, we invested in a new mattress that has done wonders for my husband’s and my sleep. There are A LOT of mattress brands out there now and I’m so glad we decided on a Hamuq. I’m a stomach sleeper and he’s a back sleeper and it’s done wonders for our rest. I thought I loved our previous memory foam mattress until our Hamuq arrived. It’s a hybrid that combines the best (in my opinion) of foam and spring. I think it’s firmer than most of the mattress-in-a-box brands, however the soft top has a decent amount of comfortable cushiness that makes it heavenly to fall into. When the time recently came to upgrade my son’s bed from the cheap twin loft thing we had going on with the reasonably cheap mattress, there was no doubt we’d get him a Hamuq too. And now that we’ve added Mickey to our family, he enjoys my son’s new bed as well.
It may seem like the long-sleeping teenage days are far off, and I’m here to tell you they’ll be here before you know it. Springing ahead, falling back, bedwetting, sleep regressions, all of it will dwindle off and you’ll be left wondering if you should go ahead and have breakfast (and sometimes lunch) without them. The answer is yes, and yes. Maybe leave them a plate in the oven if you’re nice, or go ahead and eat their share of the bacon. If you snooze, you lose. Although eventually, you win, too.
Hamuq provided a discount for our mattresses, however all opinions are my own.