Top Tips For Helping Children Who Don't Want To Go To Sleep

Top Tips For Helping Children Who Don't Want To Go To Sleep

There are many, many reasons why children don't want to go to sleep.

They might be scared of the dark, they may have trouble sleeping because their room is too noisy or because they're not comfortable in bed. Top Tips For Helping Children Who Don't Want To Go To Sleep

The solution for each problem will vary depending on the reason behind it, but there are some things that parents can do to help children get over these common worries and get a good night's rest.

Let's have a look at some of the most common excuses children give when they don't want to go to sleep so you'll know how best to handle them.

"I'm not tired."

If your child says this, it's likely that they are just trying to put off going to bed. In most cases, children who say they aren't tired will eventually get sleepy if you make them stay in bed long enough.

One way to help convince your child to go to sleep is by establishing a regular bedtime routine.

This could include reading a story, saying prayers, or taking a bath. Doing the same things every night before bed will help signal to your child that it's time for them to go to bed.

"I don't want to be alone in the dark."

Lots of children are afraid of being in the dark, and this can often lead to them not wanting to go to sleep. One way to help your child overcome this fear is by leaving a light on in their room - you could also try installing a nightlight.

If your child is still afraid of being alone in the dark, you can stay in their room with them until they fall asleep (this could lead to other issues, however, if you are able to find a balance between giving it enough time for them to go to sleep vs. you waking up with a crick in your neck in the middle of the night, go for it).

"I'm not comfortable in bed."

Children may not want to go to sleep because they're uncomfortable in their bed.

The reasons for this are many and varied but could be because the sheets are too rough, the pillow is too hard, or the mattress is too soft, etc.

To help your child get more comfortable in bed, ask them what the problem is. If they're too young to give that kind of feedback, make sure they have bedding that's soft and warm.

You could also try checking the firmness of their mattress and swapping it with one that's softer or harder, depending on what your child prefers.

If the reason for your child not being able to go to sleep is that their nose/eyes/skin is itchy, try these instead: buying dust mite covers for pillows and mattresses; installing an air cleaner in your child's bedroom; regularly vacuuming furniture; not allowing pets into the room; and washing sheets weekly with hot water.

It may also be time to consult a medical professional if the issue persists.

"I'm hot."

Some kids don't like going to sleep when they're too hot, so they'll try to stay up as long as possible before eventually becoming exhausted and falling asleep wherever they are.

If this happens, try to have things in place that you can draw on when the temperatures begin to soar - this could be in the form of a fan, opening the window (securely, of course), fill a hot water bottle and put in the freezer preparation for your child's nighttime routine so they can go to sleep comfortably.

"I'm cold."

On the other hand, some children won't want to go to sleep because it's too chilly - an issue many parents face when the weather gets colder.

To make your child warmer in bed, make sure their blankets are thick and heavy enough to keep them warm all night.

Also, think "layering", in the same way you would dress to leave the house in winter - give your child layers that can easily be added/removed as the night progresses.

"I'm hungry."

Most kids will get hungry over the course of a night, but this doesn't mean you should let them eat while they're in bed.

Doing this could cause problems like tooth decay or obesity, so make sure your child isn't snacking before going to sleep at night - even if they wake up early in the morning. If that's the case, let them have breakfast early, however, night time is not for eating.

"I need to go to the bathroom."

Going to the bathroom is a common excuse kids give for wanting to stay up late.

They may also use this as an opportunity to get out of bed and play, run around, etc.

There is no real answer to this one, unfortunately - you know your child best and you will know when they need to go or when they're just trying your patience.

"It's too noisy."

Many kids find it hard to sleep when there's a lot of noise, either in the house or outside - for example, when people are talking or cars are driving by.

To help your child block out these noises, make sure the rooms in your house are well insulated and install double-glazed windows.

Outside noise can also be reduced by using soundproofing insulation on walls that face the street.

"I'm too tired to sleep."

This may seem like an impossible excuse at first, but your child might actually feel this way if they aren't getting enough exercise during the day.

Children who play sports or take part in other activities tend to move more than those who don't, which can help them fall asleep faster at night because, essentially, they are burning more energy throughout the day, leaving very little leftover in their tiny bodies when it's time for bed.

You could encourage your child to do more physical activity during the day so it's easier for them to fall asleep at night - even though you might want to limit the amount of exercise for young kids.

Make sure your child has a bedtime routine that includes relaxing activities like reading or listening to music, as these are proven sleep aids.

"I'm worried about..."

Many children have trouble sleeping because they're worried about something - perhaps an upcoming test at school or an argument with a friend.

If this is the case and you can figure out what's causing your child's anxiety, talk to them about the problem and try to come up with a solution together.

Most of the time, the best way to deal with this is by giving them time to talk about their problems.

"I'm thirsty."

Many kids use this excuse as an opportunity to get back out of bed.

Only you know how you send your child to bed - asking for a drink once is one thing - asking for it multiple times is something else.

They could just be testing their boundaries or it could be a sign of something a little more serious.

"I need a hug."

Some kids find it hard to sleep if they're feeling anxious, which is perfectly normal and something that every kid goes through from time to time.

If your child is worried about something related to school, friends or family, you could encourage them to talk about it during the day so they don't have any leftover anxieties by the time they go to bed.

If your child still struggles with anxiety at night even after having an open conversation about their feelings, tell them not worry as much and give them a goodnight kiss instead of a full on cuddle - it's possible that your little one will misinterpret your gesture and stay up even later.

"I had a bad dream."

Most children have an exceptionally active imagination and will use this excuse as an opportunity to get back out of bed/not going to bed in the first place.

Before going to bed, talk to your child about their dreams and nightmares, a kind of 'dream dictionary' so they know what the difference between being awake and being in a dream when they have them.

To put your child's mind at ease, you could also read some books about dreams with them before bed - this might help them understand their own dreams a little better.

"I'm scared."

Similar to the anxiety excuse, some children find it hard to sleep if they're feeling scared for any reason - this could be down to a scary movie they watched or something that happened during the day.

Just like with the bad dreams excuse, try to talk to your child about what they're scared of during the day.

You could also read a book together that will help them understand this fear so they can sleep better at night.

"I can't stop thinking..."

If your child is struggling to fall asleep because their mind is filled with thoughts, you might want to encourage them to keep a journal so they can write everything down.

This will help them clear their head and fall asleep faster because they won't be keeping all of those thoughts bottled up inside.

Wrapping Up

If you have a child who is struggling to sleep at night, it can be frustrating.

One of the best ways for parents to help their children get more restful sleep is by establishing healthy habits during the day; this means getting enough exercise and following a bedtime routine that includes relaxing activities like reading or listening to music.

If your child still has trouble sleeping even after these steps are taken, make sure he or she doesn't spend too much time using electronics before going to bed - technology emits blue light which makes it hard for kids (and adults) with ADHD to fall asleep because they're stimulated when looking at screens.

Also, try talking through any anxieties your child may have about school, friends or family so he or she isn't worrying as much during the day. And remember that a warm drink, a kiss on the forehead and a hug can all help at any time of day!