6 Ways to Help a Child with Sleeping Difficulties

If a child doesn’t sleep well nor does the parent. This is an unwritten rule that is more than just an inconvenience making you drink all that coffee and yawn all day at work. Kids are still developing and need more sleep so their brains and body can rest, regenerate, and form. 

An infant needs 12 to 16 hours of sleep and a toddler from 11 to 14, while older children need a little bit less. Like adults, kids can have trouble sleeping which can make them cranky, and overemotional, cause concentration issues, and become drowsy. When it comes to this, try the following ways to help a child with sleeping difficulties.   

1. Observe your child’s sleeping patterns

You will notice any problems with your child’s sleeping right away since they can’t hide it or deal with it like adults. If they don’t fall asleep for a long time, wake up several times at night or too early, have bad dreams, or have behavior changes, you should consider your options. 

Evaluation from professionals, like Sydney Child Development Specialists, can give you more accurate conclusions and guidelines to deal with this problem. Write down when your child went to bed, fell asleep, how many times they woke up during the night, and how many hours they had of quality sleep. This will help experts determine what kind of behavioral therapy your child may need to change and adopt healthier sleep habits.

2. Listen to your child

The reasons for sleeping difficulties can be something that happened, fears, and worries, so having a conversation may help. The key is to understand your child, validate what they feel, and help them confront their anxieties. Disrupted sleep is among the first signs that something may be wrong. By talking things through you can figure out what kind of issue you are facing and how to approach it.

Validate what they are saying, don’t dismiss their thoughts and feelings, and come up with a step-by-step way to overcome the cause of sleep problems. When a child sees you are invested to help and not doubting their behavior, they will be more open to trying and resolving it.   

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3. Make their bedroom comfortable

Just like with adults, kids’ bedroom needs to be comfortable so they could fall asleep more easily. Start by adjusting the temperature to around 65°F or 18°C. This is cooler than you might have expected, but higher temperatures can make them toss and turn. 

Take care of the outside noise by closing the windows and placing a heavy curtain over them. The same will help with any light that comes inside the room. A sound machine can help in some cases or a lamp casting animated shadows on the walls, to lull your child to sleep.   

4. Create a sleep schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time will create a schedule that will help your child fall asleep naturally once mastered. They should follow the same schedule during weekends, although you can let them sleep in for no more than an hour. If you notice they show a need to sleep more than usual, it means they haven’t had enough quality shuteye in the previous week.  

Make sure that if they’re napping during the day, it’s not for more than 30 minutes. Of course, this doesn’t apply to babies and toddlers since they need the most sleep.

5. Adjust their diet 

Eating before sleep is not a good idea since it will keep them awake. However, it all depends on the type of food and its quantity. For example, eating too much fatty food can lead to discomfort, like heartburn or tummy ache. Instead, give them food rich in carbs and protein since these stimulate the production of the hormone serotonin which supports sleep.

Heavy meals are still unadvised, but you can give them a light snack, like a glass of warm milk. Additionally, if they do have to eat in the evening, ensure they have a meal at least two hours before going to bed so the food doesn’t interrupt their sleep schedule.   

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6. Start a “no electronics” before sleep rule

According to a 2017 study conducted at the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, USA, children that used bedtime electronics experienced sleep difficulties. Namely, the quality and quantity of sleep were disrupted which led to an increase in weight and a decrease in attention. 

Electronic devices, like smartphones, tablets, and TV, emit blue light which negatively affects the circadian rhythm. Because of this, children should stop using electronics at least an hour before bedtime, ideally two. Even better, keeping the devices that emit any distracting light outside of the bedroom is good both for you and your child.  


When thinking of ways to help a child with sleeping difficulties, it’s important to have the right approach. Seeking professional help and listening to the child should be the first steps to creating a healthy and comfortable sleeping routine. Respecting the same principles as your kid will give them the support they need as well, while at the same time improving your sleep habits.

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