There are a few key components needed to ensure the perfect sleep-inducing environment for your child. Using all of these tips in conjunction with an age-appropriate routine, schedule, and independent sleep habits will set you up for success in getting your child the sleep they need for their growth and development!
★ Cool, but not cold. Our bodies rest best in a temperature between 68-72 degrees F. This is recommended by the AAP. If your child’s room is lower than that, then make sure you’re using the appropriate layers! Did you know that our body temperature decreases to initiate sleep? Keeping the room at an appropriate temperature will help your child drift right off to dreamland.
★ Keep the room as dark as a cave! This is for several reasons, one being that anything your child can see once they become super aware is a distraction to them. That means seeing fun designs on their sheets will keep them awake longer than if they were in a boring, pitch black space where their only option being is sleep. Another reason is that light early in the morning will cause them to wake unnecessarily as sunlight is key to setting their circadian rhythm. Unless you like 5 a.m. wake-ups, keep it dark so that they will continue to sleep in a bit, then expose them to light when it’s really time to wake up! A night light is not needed until they’re much older, around 3 years old if they ask for it.
★ Use continuous white noise. White noise is proven to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, increases the amount of time you spend in deep sleep cycles, and decreases the amount of time it takes to transition sleep cycles at night. It really only improves sleep! Not to mention that it drowns out sudden noises preventing any unnecessary wakeups. Bonus: you don’t have to tiptoe by their doorway and risk waking them with a squeaky floorboard!
★ An empty sleep space because that’s a safe sleep space, but also because things like mobiles and a bunch of stuffed animals mean “play time” and not “sleep time.”
★ No screens in the bedroom! That means, television, phones, tablets, etc. They naturally reduce melatonin production meaning it will make it harder for your child (and you) to fall asleep and stay asleep. Ideally, turn off any screens 1-2 hours before bed and do not include them in any aspect of your bedtime routine.
★ Is paint color important for a “sleepy” environment? Absolutely! You’ll want to use flat paints in tranquil colors; think gray, blue, or beige. Anything bright will be more stimulating, thus putting off sleep.
Here’s to a more restful night’s sleep for your child (and you!)
Ashley Olson, guest blogger
Certified pediatric sleep consultant and founder of Heaven Sent Sleep