Many parents know the struggle of trying to sleep in on a Saturday and being woken up by their little one as soon as the sun is shining. While some of us (me) can roll over and get a little more sleep, not all parents are able to do this. It’s frustrating when we’re trying to catch a little extra zzz’s before the work week starts again. But no matter what you try you cannot find a way to help your children sleep longer.
Some kids are early risers by nature and struggle to stay asleep past a certain time. My son is one of them. Most days he’s up by 7:00-7:30 no matter what. Even if we had a long night and he didn’t get to bed at his regular bedtime.
It’s frustrating when, say, the kids are on a week-long break from school and all you want is for them to sleep a little extra all week.
It’s even more frustrating when your children are waking even earlier and not getting the right amount of sleep.
But how can we help our children sleep longer?
Sounds impossible, I know. But it can be done.
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How Much Sleep Do Children Really Need?
Before you can start to help your children sleep longer, it’s helpful to know how much sleep kids need to be at their best.
Not everyone is built the same and some people, even children, need less sleep to function at their fullest. I only say this because I am one of those people. If I sleep for 8 hours, I am sluggish and tired all day. Sleep for 6 and I’m productive and wide-awake all day.
At different ages and developmental stages, our children need different amounts of sleep. Some of this has to do with their growth stage and brain development, and it’s also in part because they are using more energy throughout the day. With all the playing and running around, I’d need more sleep too.
So how much sleep does your little one need to stay healthy and active?
The numbers shocked me honestly. But remember to factor in nap times too, because those are included in these numbers.
After looking at the National Sleep Foundation’s suggested sleep times, do your children get enough sleep?
If not, don’t worry. Getting your children to sleep longer is not too difficult, but it can take some time. Give these tricks a couple of weeks and you should see a noticeable improvement in the time your kids are getting up and moving around.
Tricks for Getting Your Children to Sleep Longer
Setting a Bedtime Routine
You’ve heard it a million times, I’m sure. Children need structure. This is especially so when you’re trying to help your children sleep longer. They’re not going to sleep longer if their bodies aren’t being cued to bedtime.
Your brain is a super genius. If we have a set routine, eventually our brains pick up on it and start to use the pattern to cure our body to do certain things.
For example, if every night you drink a mug of tea, read for an hour, and then brush your teeth and go to sleep. Your brain will eventually tell your body to begin the “sleepy stage” while you’re drinking your tea. After a while, you’ll notice that it’s easier to fall asleep at night.
The same goes for our children. If we want them to fall asleep faster and sleep longer, they’re going to need a routine before bed.
You can even create your own bedtime routine to hang up where your child can see it each night. This also helps them learn some independence for getting themselves ready for bed.
Turn off Electronics
This goes for everyone. Not just children. By turning off electronics at least an hour before bedtime, you’re not stimulating your brain any longer.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, using electronics such as tablets and phones before bed delays all of the functions that tell our body to sleep. The blue light that the devices give off affects our bodies preparation for sleep in many ways.
A good practice to get your children to sleep longer is to set a shutdown time. We typically are done with electronics once dinner is served. That’s not to say that it happens every night, but most nights when it’s time for dinner we’re done with devices.
Use Relaxing Activities
Finding calming activities that will help your child wind down before bed will help them to fall asleep at the right time.
Reading or coloring are great activities that aren’t very stimulating for children. Incorporating this with the other tricks will make it easier to help your children sleep longer.
Block Out Light Sources
There’s a scientific reason that a lot of children, and adults, wake up at the “crack of dawn.” Light and dark are huge cues for our bodies to begin the sleep stage or wake stage. Having a lot of light coming into the room at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning will tell your brain to wake you up.
Which is why a log of us struggle to fall asleep when there is a light on somewhere. Even if the light isn’t on in my room, but somewhere outside of my room, it’ll bother me and keep me awake until I get up to turn it off.
Probably one of the most effective ways to help children sleep longer is to cut out light sources. These light sources may be the only reason that they are getting up early.
Blackout curtains are the best. They’re make of a special material that lines the back that blocks sunlight from showing through. They even help reduce the noise. You know, the birds chirping and whatnot that also signifies morning.
Eclipse blackout curtains are my favorite personally. They come in adorable fun designs just for kids. And even some very beautiful colors if you want to use them throughout your house.
These Eclipse Forest Friends Panels are so adorable. I kind of want them for my own room. :p
Use a Wake Up Alarm Clock
I’m sure you’re thinking that this sounds a little counterproductive. But it’s not the kind of alarm clock you are used to.
There are companies now that make alarm clocks for children that are known early risers. These clocks have special programming that allows you to set times when it’s okay for your child to get out of bed. By using red or green lights, your child will learn to stay in bed until a certain time.
If you need to help your children sleep longer, these alarm clocks are really helpful. I’ve read plenty of reviews and parents are swearing by them.
Plus, they’re adorable.
The light will be a certain color if it’s not the time for them to get up, and then when it’s okay for them to get up the light will turn green. This signals your child that it is okay to get up and play or get ready for the day.
Mella is my favorite. It has an adorable face that shows a sleepy face when it’s time for bed, a half smile face signaling that it’s not the time to get up and wake everyone else, and a smiley face signaling that it’s okay to get up.
Some other brands also have great reviews and have the same concept. One other example is the Stay in Bed Light Clock by Marvy Brands.
Keep a Regular Bed Time
Just as having a regular bedtime routine will help your child sleep longer, so will keeping a consistent bedtime.
Having your kids go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day will allow their bodies to set their internal clocks appropriately.
Not only will this help you now, it will help them in the long run when they are more independent and don’t rely on you for these cues.