In many American homes, the typical bedtime routine for children is: dinner, bath, TV, bed. As discussed in our two previous posts, watching television before bedtime increases children’s sleep problems. Researchers postulate that the quickly-changing images on television screens may be more responsible for disturbing children’s sleep than program content. The screen’s flickering images appear to over-stimulate the brain’s frontal cortex, making it difficult for children to “turn off” and relax when it’s time to go to sleep. Pediatric researchers are unanimous in their recommendation that television viewing be excluded from children’s bedtime routines.
Use the following tips to establish a healthy bedtime routine for your children that will minimize potential sleep problems:
- Go for a walk or bike ride before dinner to allow children to expel excess energy.
- Turn off the television during dinner and invite children to share their daily experiences.
- After dinner, encourage your child to engage in quiet play. Older children might enjoy board games, jigsaw puzzles or card games.
- Allow your child to play in the water for a few minutes after bathing.
- Cuddle up in a rocking chair or the child’s bed and read a story.
- Tuck your child in and watch the Nighty Night bedtime video together.
- Say goodnight and turn on the Nighty Night Bedtime Melodies CD as you leave the room.