My four-year-old son and I have a nightly ritual. We watch TV together in his room for two hours before bedtime to make him tired, but he has trouble falling asleep, anyway. He frequently wakes up with nightmares, too. Any suggestions?
Worried in Van Nuys
Dear Worried in Van Nuys,
I have a huge suggestion. Turn off the TV! Your nightly ritual stinks.
A new study published in the journal, Pediatrics, confirms my opinion. The study by the Seattle Children's Research Institute shows that children exposed to too much television after 7:00 had sleep issues. Nearly one in five children studied had one or more sleep problems most days of the week including difficulty falling asleep, awakening at night, and having nightmares. Kids who watched the most nighttime TV had the most sleep trouble.
Here’s what I suggest you do for a new nightly ritual:
1. Get rid of the TV in your son’s room. A growing body of research shows strong connections between bedroom TVs and health and educational problems.
2. At 7:00 dim the lights in your home and turn off all TVs, computers, etc.
3. Have Junior wash up, brush, and into his pajamas.
4. Tuck son into bed.
5. Read a bedtime story to your child. Spend from 10-20 minutes reading in a dimly lit environment, just enough light for you to read comfortably.
6. Kiss your son goodnight followed by a good hug.
If you follow this routine, the nightmares and sleeplessness will diminish. If not, see your pediatrician. Remember, young children sleep best followed by calming nighttime rituals like bedtime stories and cuddling.
Learn more about Michael on his website at http://www.michaelthal.com.