Exertion helps wear a child out, but there’s no better way to help them sleep than a firm and regular sleep ritual.
Problems with infant sleep are very typical. But even toddlers and school-aged kids can develop poor sleep habits. Time zone changes during a vacation, daylight savings, even just seasonal summertime evenings can make it hard for kids to settle down at an appropriate time. Luckily there is a way to help a kid get tuckered out and sleep tight.
The big key to making kids more receptive to a regular bedtime is getting them to exert themselves during the day with games and activities. “It’s totally worth it to wear toddlers out before bedtime,” stresses clinical sleep psychologist Lynelle Schneeberg, a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Yale School of Medicine. “I think the best way to do this is to offer lots of outdoor play or any type of ‘large motor’ play. Physical exercise deepens sleep and also relieves stress and frustration, which all toddlers certainly have.”
It isn’t that exercise and exertion is a bedtime activity – Schneeberg recommends avoiding it in the hour before the bedtime ritual starts – but it can certainly help make bedtime easier. When kids exert themselves doesn’t necessarily dictate how weary they are unless they are still taking naps. The level of exertion, on the other hand, even hours before bedtime, can really exhaust kids. Swimming can be very draining, and usually, the pool is so much fun kids don’t notice. In order to capitalize on this end-of-day weariness, though, parents need to stick to the bedtime rituals that cue children into when bedtime has actually arrived.