Don't Give In
Establish a regular bedtime and stick with it. Yes, even on weekends. If your child gets up after he's tucked in, gently guide him back to bed. Try not to fight or fuss. Just firmly enforce the routine.
Set the Scene
Does your child like a bedtime story, a warm bath, soft music or a stuffed pal to cuddle with in bed? Consistent patterns, as well as consistent lights-out times, help kids nod off easily. Small, healthy snacks are fine, but avoid large meals close to bedtime or anything with caffeine, including hot chocolate or tea. Make sure the bedroom is dark and cool.
Try a Little Jaunt Before Shuteye
Do your kids get enough physical activity each day—meaning, at least one good hour of heart-pumping exercise? It will help them sleep. My husband takes my oldest son, who's autistic, for a brisk 30-to-40-minute walk around our neighborhood almost nightly. Sleep problems often go along with developmental issues, and we've found the walk helps him transition to sleep and stay asleep. Sometimes my daughter goes along, but my other son plays hours of sports every day and doesn't need a minute of extra exercise. Just get that activity in at least an hour or so before bedtime. You don't want it to have the opposite effect and give your child a second wind.
Set Up the Bedroom for Sleeping Only
Keep computers and TVs out of kids' bedrooms (yours too, while you're at it). This may be harder as kids get older, but hang tough. Why? First, older kids often sneak out of bed and surf on their computers all night. Second, research shows the flickering light from a TV, computer or cell phone can stimulate the brain in ways that delay both the production of melatonin (the chemical that makes us sleepy) and the drop in body temperature that makes us want to snuggle under the covers.
7 facts about children and sleeping