Young toddler taking an afternoon nap

Sleep helps children develop physically and mentally, and boosts the overall mood of children and adults. Try bringing up the topic of sleep, say during your family dinner, and hear what your kids have to say about keeping late nights. They may have reasons you do not know—such as preferring to work at night when it's quieter—even if it means that they don’t get enough sleep.

Then help them to see the benefits of better sleep habits such as regular sleep-wake times and having enough hours of sleep, which means around 10-13 hours a day for pre-schoolers aged 3 to 5 years old, 9-11 hours for school children aged 6 to 13 years old and 8-10 hours of sleep for teenagers aged 14 to 17 years old. Inform them about the drawbacks of insufficient sleep and how being sleep-deprived can hurt their level of mental alertness during the day. Find an agreement which you and your children can see eye to eye with and make that your sleep resolution for the year.

To help everyone in the family keep their word, make a written contract for everyone to sign. Stick it on the fridge or your child’s bedroom door so your resolutions are never out of mind. Cultivate these good sleeping habits to help your family wind down from the day and get ready for an early night.

Follow this routine every day even on weekends and holidays, so the whole family gets used to the routine — and maybe even looks forward to it! When you don’t suffer from a lack of sleep, you’ll all wake up brighter, fresher, and reap the benefits as a family.

Related: Is your child getting enough sleep?

How to Put young children to Sleep

Improve toddler sleep by giving your toddler a warm bath before bedtime.

Toddlers, aged 1-2 years old, should ideally get at least 11 hours of sleep. Children should get sleep at least 10 hours a day if they are 3 to 5 years old and at least 9 hours if they are 6 to 13 years old.

Take a Warm Bath

Help little ones get ready for bed by giving them a warm bath. Warm water helps muscles relax, and young children will usually enjoy playing with toys in the bathtub. You can also gently massage their legs and feet if your children enjoy it. After their bath, snuggle them into a comfortable pair of pyjamas and exchange lots of hugs! Over time, children will find the bath time routine both fun and familiar as they come to associate it with bedtime.

Sound of Music

Towards the end of the night, dim the lights and play some calming music, such as a playlist of lullabies. You can also sing or hum your children’s favourite tunes. The key is to pick familiar songs that will soothe and comfort them as they begin slipping off into sleep.

Download resources such as bedtime stories and audio books which can help your young children power down to sleep.

Related: About Sleep

How to Help Older Children Fall Asleep Faster

Use of electronic devices at night can result in kids not getting the right amount of sleep.

Power Down Before Bed

Does your kid have trouble falling asleep? Using electronic devices such as computers, phones and tablets, stimulates the brain and keeps it alert, which may have a negative effect on sleep quality. Switch electronic devices for stuffed animals during bedtime instead. Encourage children to put them away about an hour before bed so the body has time to shut down and relax. Remember to do the same with your own devices!

Students Need Enough Sleep Too

No matter what time school starts you can help your children learn to plan their daily schedule so they have enough time for homework, studying and leisure activities before bedtime at 9pm. It may be tempting to push back bedtime when there are lots to do, but be firm! It shows children that bedtime is a priority and helps inculcate good sleeping habits from young.

Related: Students Not Getting Enough Sleep

Finish Homework and Studying after getting back from School

Help children get schoolwork out of the way, so they can rest easy when bedtime rolls around. Encourage them to finish homework and studying as soon as they get home from school, rather than leaving it too close to bedtime. This is especially important when teenagers face an increased workload as they transit from primary to secondary school.

For Older and Younger Children Alike:

Young mother helping her child get the right amount of sleep

Bedtime Reading

Now that everyone is unplugged, gather the family for some bedtime reading. Read aloud to younger children from their favourite picture books, and let older children read books they enjoy. The key is to make this fun, so children look forward to their daily “reading hour”. Keep a log of the family’s reading, so everyone can look back in a year and see how much you’ve covered when you put those phones away.

Quality Time

At the end of a frenetic day, spend some quality time chatting with your children​. Ask about their day, what they enjoyed doing, and what made them happy. Give them a safe space to talk, and tell them you love them. The quality time spent bonding might just turn out to be your favourite part of the day.

Related: Sleep well, Live Better

I will Wind Down my Routine Before Sleeping

As bedtime approaches, start winding down your routine and avoid stimulating or rigorous activities such as exercise just before sleeping. Put away electronic devices, including mobile phones, laptops and tablets.

Go a step further to preserve quality sleep by leaving phones outside the bedroom at night. Even on silent mode, vibrations from texts or calls can interfere with sleep. In the morning, rely on a good old alarm clock for your wake-up call instead.

Make My Room a Sleep-Friendly Zone

Help your body associate the bedroom with rest by keeping it quiet, dark and cool, and use it for soothing activities such as reading or listening to soothing music. Avoid doing stimulating activities in bed such as doing homework, using electronic devices, and poring over the ten-year series! Leave the room and do these activities in the living room instead.

Related: Catch Your Zzzs: Tips for a Better Night's Sleep

For You:

I will Counter Stress for Better Sleep

Keep stress under control in your daily life, and you'll soon see the benefits on your sleep patterns too. Getting regular exercise and having a healthy diet can go a long way towards stress management so you get a good night's sleep and improve your mental health.

Lead by Example

Ultimately, your most important role as a parent is to lead by example with your own sleeping habits as children learn by observing the people around them. Older siblings will enjoy having a sense of responsibility, so encourage them to set a good example for younger children too.

Make sleep a priority for the whole family, and you'll soon reap the benefits when everyone's brighter, fresher and more energetic after a good night's sleep.

Keep It Consistent

Young mothers can also benefit from a short sleep no more than 30 minutes as an afternoon nap

Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Day, even on Weekends

Children thrive on routines, and this will help their internal body clock grow accustomed to bedtime. On weekends, plan fun activities such as breakfast at your favourite hawker centre, or take part in fitness activities such as Sundays@The Park. Make weekends enjoyable, and children will be clamouring to wake up early.

Related: Sweet Dreams are Made of These 

You might pick and choose from these tips while formulating a bedtime routine for the family, or experiment a little while finding what works best for you and your children. Once you’ve found a routine that works, stick with it! Children thrive on consistency, and when they do the same things at the close of every day, their bodies recognise the routine and send them signals to prepare for sleep. Keep the signals consistent, and sleep will be too.​

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