Helping Your Child Get to Sleep and Stay Asleep
 
Is your child is still struggling to get to sleep when it’s bedtime? Is it difficult for him/her to get up in the morning and be ready to arrive at school ready to learn? In typical development, children go through periods of time in which falling asleep or staying asleep can be a challenge. This can be especially true if a child has experienced a change in his/her life such as a move, the loss of a family member, new school, or change in routine (such as being in “vacation mode” and then coming back to school).   It can also sometimes be as a result of worrying about what’s going on at home or at school, or specific fears about the dark/feeling safe. However, if a child struggles with falling or staying asleep over time, the worry of not being able to get a good night’s rest itself becomes a worry and the problem can grow, affecting your child’s overall health, as well as life at school and at home. Children ages 6-8 need at least 11 hours of sleep a night, children 9-11 need at least 10 hours, and adolescents need at least 9 hours a night.
If your child is struggling with sleep, you might want to consider the following:
·         Have a daily bedtime routine and try to stick to it—even on weekends. Have a time in which the t.v./cell phone/computer is off for the night
·         Teach your child how to relax his/her body by taking slow breaths from the belly, in the nose, out the nose (or in the nose, out the mouth)
·         Encourage your child to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly
·         Caffeinated drinks and foods high in sugar should be avoided in the late afternoon and not be a part of dinner
·         Encourage your child to read something funny/low-key before bed, such as the comics (“Peanuts” and “Garfield” are great for younger kids, newspaper comic strips or Calvin and Hobbes for older students)
If you are looking for good books that offer further suggestions, check out What to Do When You Dread Your Bed by Dawn Huebner, Ph.D. and Be the Boss of Your Sleep Self-Care for Kids by Timothy Culbert, M.D., and Rebecca Kajonder, C.P.N.P., M.P.H.. Both books are designed for elementary-aged children but offer information that could be useful for teens as well.
If you need more ideas, don’t hesitate to ask your child’s doctor as well as a school social worker or other student support staff for suggestions! 
Bedtime Routine

This is a visual chart to help you establish a bedtime routine with your child.

Things to Avoid Before Going to Bed

This is a visual to help your child understand what things/activities are best to be avoided before going to bed.

What do Do When You Dread Your Bed by Dawn Huebner
What do Do When You Dread Your Bed by Dawn Huebner
This interactive self-help book helps children and parents work through overcoming anxiety about falling and staying asleep. It tackles common problems such as feeling restless, having thoughts that cause worry, fears about the dark, and overreliance on adults to problem-solve around what to do.
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