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Best Bedtime Routines for Children

There’s no doubt that sleep is crucial in childhood. However, according to research, 20% to 30% of babies and toddlers have sleep issues and struggle with bedtime. Luckily, you can set your child up for getting quality sleep by creating and following a consistent bedtime routine.

So, if you are frustrated by your young insomniac, continue reading this article to find out more about the best bedtime routines for young children.

Bedtime Routine Meaning and Benefits

A bedtime routine is a repetitive set of activities done before bedtime every night. This helps in preparing your child for sleep by relaxing and winding down. Plus, as they know what’s going to happen, a predictable routine provides them with a sense of security and eventually teaches them to fall asleep without the help of their parents, i.e., on their own.

What’s more, the benefits of following a strict bedtime routine are numerous. Plus, children who followed a routine before bedtime when they were younger could still enjoy the benefits years later. Research shows these children:

  • tend to go to sleep earlier
  • take less time to fall asleep
  • wake up less during the night
  • sleep longer hours

Furthermore, a bedtime routine will not only help your child improve sleep but also teach them self-care, improve cognitive skills like working memory and attention, support parent-child relationships, boost mood, improve behavior, and reduce stress. Eventually, all of these benefits will lead to better readiness for school and better academic performance and social skills.

Building a Bedtime Routine for Kids

The perfect bedtime routine for children should have no more than four activities. Ideally, you should choose between three or four. For example, taking a bath, putting on pajamas, brushing your teeth, and reading a book. And, what’s most important, these activities should always be carried out in the same order. Plus, you can make this even more effective by dimming the lights and turning off screens before starting your bedtime routine.

In general, common bedtime activities that have proven to be beneficial for sleep include:

  • breastfeeding/bottle or nutritious snack
  • taking a bath or shower
  • going to the bathroom or changing a dirty diaper
  • brushing teeth
  • massage, cuddling, and rocking
  • lullaby or singing a song
  • reading a book
  • talking about their day

Finally, once you finish your chosen activities, give your child a goodnight kiss and turn the lights out. Leave their bedroom while they’re sleepy but not asleep yet. Doing so will set the ground for falling asleep on their own and prevent them to feel scared if they wake up during the night without you.

However, be careful with your choice as some activities are counterproductive to sleep and may lead to creating unhealthy habits. That said, here’s what you shouldn’t do:

  • start the routine when they’re already sleepy
  • allow screens before bedtime
  • let them indulge in physical activities
  • give sugary treats or heavy meals
  • read scary stories
  • allow sleeping in on weekends

On the contrary, here are some tips to help you with creating a healthy bedtime routine for your child:

  • be consistent and to the routine each night
  • ensure the activities are short and sweet
  • listen to your child and change the routine if needed
  • apply good sleep hygiene rules
  • make gradual changes, but one change at a time top of Form

Now that you know everything needed about bedtime routines for children, apply the above-listed tips and set your child up for good sleep.

What Is PMS Insomnia?

You may already be familiar with the fact that a great share of the American adult population. 35% to be precise, suffers from insomnia symptoms. But, did you know that women are at higher risk of experiencing poor sleep compared to men?

This is true due to the hormonal changes related to their menstrual cycle. And, given the fact that quality sleep is essential for both physical and mental health, it’s key to learn more about the connection between the menstrual cycle and sleep, as well as how to improve sleep during your period. So, let’s begin!

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Basics

In short, many physical and emotional changes occur as a result of the body’s hormone production during the days before their period.

And, although these changes are trivial and mild for many women, some experience disruptive and extensive changes that lead to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), in up to 12% of women, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) when extremely severe changes occur, about 1% to 5% of women.

What these syndromes have in common is poor sleep. Namely, women with PMS and PMDD, and even those with mild symptoms, tend to be extremely tired and experience insomnia symptoms before and during their period. Unfortunately, the exact cause that leads to these sleep issues hasn’t been completely understood yet.

One possible explanation is that women react differently to fluctuations in hormones such as progesterone and estrogen. Other explanations include a deficiency in serotonin or deficiencies in calcium or magnesium.

Changes Before Women’s Period

According to statistics, 90% of women notice at least some changes, physical or emotional, during the days leading to their menstruation. These may appear from a couple of hours to 10 days before the period and go away right after the period begins or several days after the period starts.

Common physical and emotional changes before a women’s period include:

  • Tender or swollen breasts
  • Headache
  • Cramps
  • Bloating or gassiness
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Noise and light sensitivity
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Clumsiness
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Sex drive changes
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep changes
  • Appetite changes

The Link between PMS and Sleep

Women who go through PMS are at least twice as likely to suffer from insomnia symptoms before and during their menstruation. Lack of sleep then leads to extreme daytime sleepiness, tiredness, and drowsiness.

On the other hand, PMS can cause some women to sleep too much, known as hypersomnia, as a result of the tiredness and fatigue they experience around their period, and due to the mood changes that occur, such as depression.

The reason why PMS negatively affects sleep is, as we already said, not clarified completely yet. The most reasonable explanation is that the changes in hormonal levels provoke issues falling or staying asleep.

Fortunately, following certain steps can help confront insomnia around your period and get better sleep during all menstrual cycle phases. Here’s what you should do:

  • Practice good sleep hygiene as a preventative measure before your period begins.
  • Exercise regularly and eat healthy during the days leading to your period.
  • Try relaxation techniques to reduce stress and anxiety levels.
  • If symptoms persist, talk to your doctor about taking medications and supplements.

To conclude, even though the relationship isn’t fully clarified, premenstrual syndrome and sleep are closely connected. So, if you experience poor sleep as a result of PMS, ensure you follow the above-listed tips to help you get the rest you need during those days.

What Is Paradoxical Insomnia?

Have you ever felt like you were awake for the whole night despite having actually slept? Does your partner say you sleep soundly but you still wake up tired as you didn’t get enough sleep? If so, you may suffer from paradoxical insomnia, also known as subjective insomnia or sleep state misperception. Now, in case you aren’t familiar with it, let’s have a closer look at paradoxical insomnia.

Paradoxical Insomnia Basics

Considered a subtype of chronic insomnia, paradoxical insomnia is characterized by feeling as if you haven’t slept for the entire night or didn’t get the sleep needed. This condition can be quite challenging and frustrating since it can last for months, even years.

Paradoxical Insomnia Symptoms

Fortunately, you don’t experience true sleep deficit with paradoxical insomnia, which is the case with chronic insomnia. However, you would still have certain symptoms which are typically the same as for insomnia, including:

  • Feeling like you’ve been awake most of the night
  • Constant worrying while trying to fall asleep
  • Not being able to function at work or socially
  • Feeling unrefreshed in the morning
  • Extreme sleepiness during the day

Paradoxical Insomnia Causes

In general, paradoxical insomnia is a disorder that hasn’t been studied enough yet so the exact cause of it isn’t currently known. Certain studies have linked paradoxical insomnia with some psychiatric conditions and found changes in brain function which may help clarify the causes of the disorder.

Precisely speaking, one study noted changes in key areas of the brain responsible for the perception of sleep and the regulation of our sleep-wake cycles. Another study found that paradoxical insomnia is more common in those who suffer from depression or anxiety. Furthermore, a different study showed that this sleep disorder typically goes hand in hand with some psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and alcohol dependency.

Paradoxical Insomnia Treatment

At the moment, as paradoxical insomnia is a largely understudied disorder, general treatment guidelines don’t exist. Still, research shows that a combination of some strategies may be effective in treating the disorder. These treatment options include:

  • Sleep education
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication

When it comes to sleep education, anyone having sleep issues should focus on getting educated about sleep and learning what’s important for getting quality sleep. One aspect to focus on is sleep hygiene which means that you should follow a strict sleep schedule, make your bedroom sleep-friendly, limit screen time, mind your diet, etc.

Psychotherapy is yet another treatment option you may consider. The best type of psychotherapy for treating paradoxical insomnia is thought to be cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Even though there isn’t enough research to prove the effectiveness of this type of therapy, it is more than reasonable to recommend it as CBT helps in restoring healthier beliefs and perspectives.

Last but not least, sedative and hypnotic agents are medications that are usually used for treating chronic insomnia and could also be helpful for paradoxical insomnia. These medications help with both falling and staying asleep. But, as they are addictive, they are the last recommended treatment option.

Medications for treating insomnia include:

  • Mirtazapine (Remeron)
  • Zolpidem (Ambien)
  • Ramelteon (Rozerem)
  • Zaleplon (Sonata)
  • Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • Melatonin

The bottom line is if you’ve noticed any of the above-listed symptoms and suspect you may suffer from paradoxical insomnia, ensure you consult your doctor to discuss the best treatment option for you.