How To Fall Asleep Fast For Kids

10 Tips and Tricks That Actually Work

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illustration of sleepy time bed time for kids

While there is no rule book on how much sleep an individual needs, it’s recommended that children from 6-12 years need 9 – 12 hours of a full night’s rest every night. A child takes approximately 20 minutes to fall asleep on average. However, if you find that your youngster takes longer than half an hour to get to sleep, there is probably a cause.

If you’re a parent with children under 12, you know first-hand how difficult it is to get them to sleep on your schedule. Children are constantly striving to find their independence and sense of self. 

What to expect in this article exploring how to fall asleep fast for kids:

Why Do Some Kids Take Forever To Fall Asleep?

You’ve done everything that you can think of throughout the day. Yet, no matter what you try, your children can’t seem to stop messing around. Just talking, playing, and just not sleeping. 

Trust that it’s not them trying to upset you. Indeed, it may be caused by something they don’t understand. Some reasons your child takes forever to fall asleep may include:

Not Tired

The importance of routine is that it prepares your children for adulthood. They learn responsibility, emotional control, and conflict resolution through your guidance, support, and structure. 

Are your kids just not tired? Or do they have the pent-up energy they need to release? Sometimes children defy their parents out of learning independence and free will. Other times, they have a legitimate reason why they’re “acting out.” 

Try pushing back their bedtime or creating a more consistent nighttime routine. If it’s pent-up energy, make a habit of working out with your young one or go for a brisk walk before dinner. 

Scared To Have Nightmares

Let’s be honest, nightmares are scary. Although it doesn’t often happen to adults, children are more likely to experience scary and lucid dreams than adults. If your baby suffers from frequent nightmares, it will result in a negative association with sleep. 

To help them have fewer nightmares, incorporate the following into their bedtime routine:

  • Watch an inspiring family movie
  • Name five things that are positive or you are grateful for 
  • Let them explain their nightmare to you and have them keep a dream journal or draw it out
  • Read a funny story or create your own together
  • Avoid scary or threatening movies and shows before bedtime
  • Play soothing music

Specific Phobias

As we grow and learn, we identify with things that scare us, such as spiders, heights, and closed spaces. Children are still learning about the world around them and can experience specific phobias

Don’t disregard your child’s fear. Instead, help them think more logically about the specific phobia. 

For example, what if your child is afraid of spiders? Explain that they are not dangerous and are more scared of us than we are of them. 

Stress 

Just as adults become overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, kids do too. Although their stress may seem insignificant compared to a house, bills, relationships, and life – stress can debilitate anyone. 

Make a habit of everyone talking about their days and their stress at the dinner table. Most of the time, talking it out can help ease the mind. Also, allow your child to feel heard and validated in their concerns. 

Change

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by significant change. That may include moving, the death of a loved one, or divorce. 

While you as the parent are battling your own emotions about big shifts in your life, don’t forget that your children are people too with their own perspectives, thoughts, and emotions.

Ensure that you let them know that change is coming, and talk them through any questions or concerns they may have. 

How To Fall Asleep Fast for Kids

We’ll save you the repetitive information about how important a bedtime routine is. Instead, a list of ideas is what you likely crave more than anything. After all, you’ve likely Googled how to get an 8 year old to sleep (or whatever age your kid is).

When it comes to creating a night routine, you’ll want to start the process 2 hours before bedtime to allow your child’s mind to ultimately wind down and know what to expect every night. 

Boost Sleep Confidence

One key step is to ensure you let your children know what to expect. Maybe you started sleeping with them to make them feel at ease and help them sleep faster. 

As soon as they are snoring soundly, you quietly leave their side and have some adult time. 

Some kids aren’t confident enough to sleep alone, so when they wake up, they become panicked because you’re not there. 

Let them know that you’ll stay with them until they fall asleep but that you will be leaving when they are asleep. This will help their minds settle.

Turn Off Electronics and TV 2 Hours Before Bedtime

There is so much evidence that correlates poor sleep quality and screen time. If having the TV on has lulled your child to sleep, this can be a tough habit to break. Therefore turning screens off 2 hours before bedtime will allow your child’s mind to wind down and help them relax. 

Try replacing the TV with pink, brown, or white noise. Alternatively, consider playing guided meditation through a sound device. 

Set a Wind-Down Time

We all need a break from the busyness of life. Starting from when you turn the television off, you can give your child the opportunity to wind down. Some activities for winding down may include:

  • Take a warm bubble bath with scented lavender candles
  • Reading a book
  • Coloring or drawing
  • Writing in a journal or scrapbooking. 
  • Having one-on-one quality time
  • Having a light snack and drink
  • Cuddles!

Reduce Stress and Fears Before Bedtime

A hormone that contributes to stress and how able your child can handle it depends on the amount of cortisol that regulates through their body. Cortisol is the stress hormone that heightens emotions, senses, and physical feelings when anxiety or fear is present. 

Reducing stress for your children may include:

  • Talking it out
  • Conflict resolution activities (“what would you do if this happened?”)
  • Empathy awareness skills (“If I feel xxx, how would you help me?”)
  • Deep breathing
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Yoga

Reduce Bedroom Temperature

NREM sleep (the stages of sleep before REM sleep) will accompany you quicker if there is a cooler room temperature. As your body falls into a slumber, your core temperature and brain cool down, preparing your mind to wind down to a relaxed state of peace. 

Try setting the room temperature a couple degrees lower.

Things To Help a Child Sleep

Getting into a bedtime routine—especially if you didn’t already have one—takes commitment, consistency, patience, and willpower (deflect your children’s excuses). However, let’s say you have tried everything imaginable, but still feel at a loss as to how to get a 9 year old to sleep

Sometimes, all you need is a little help. Here are some ideas:

Night Lights

Occasionally one might wake up to have to use the washroom. It can feel a little unnerving when you wake up in the dead of night, and everyone is asleep while all the lights are turned off. Ensure you set some night lights in the hallways and close to the bathroom.

Another great idea is to invest in a star projector or glow-in-the-dark wall decor. Children have wild imaginations, so having creative lights may entice them to self-soothe. 

Kids Guided Meditation

Another approach when figuring out how to fall asleep fast for 11 year olds (or any age) is to use a kids’ guided meditation CD. Then, put it on as they are in bed. 

Guided meditation teaches self-soothing techniques and deep breathing exercises that will allow your child to follow a storyline leading them straight to sleep. 

Sleepy Tea

Remember snack time as part of the bedtime routine? Introduce sleepy teas into the schedule about half an hour before bedtime. Make it fun and have tea with them so they don’t feel singled out. Some sleepy teas include:

  • Chamomile
  • Peppermint
  • Bergamot
  • Lemon
  • Valerian

Sleep Scented Items

Did you know that smell is the closest sensory we have to memories? Smell contributes to our mood and, depending on the smell, can create very distinct feelings or actions. For example, you’ll likely want to vomit if you smell trash.

Some sleep scents that will help you in your journey to answering how to get a 9 year old to sleep include:

  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang Ylang 
  • Frankincense
  • Marjoram

Pink and Brown Noise 

Brown noise is a bass-boosted noise that stems from natural noise such as thunder and waterfalls. Pink noise is similar to white noise. However, it’s amplified.

Examples of pink noise include:

  • Heartbeats
  • Leaves
  • Ocean waves
  • Steady rain

Examples of brown noise include:

  • Waterfall
  • Dull roaring sounds
  • Low thunder
  • Rivers

Conclusion

So, now you have the answers to the question, “how to fall asleep fast for kids?” It’s not that kids want to be or mean to be defiant when it comes to bedtime. Sometimes, children feel left out and don’t want the party to end. Other times, something bothers them so much that their thoughts won’t stop.

Kids’ and adults’ sleep issues are very similar, so remember that your little people are humans too and may need guidance and comfort to understand falling asleep is necessary. 

Watch out for sleep disorders, such as insomnia, nightmare disorder, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome. There’s a big difference between not wanting to sleep and psychologically or physically can’t, so find out what the source is. 

Nate Devore
Nate Devore
For over 15 years Nate has been obsessed with solving his own personal and difficult health challenges related to sleep, energy, and fatigue. As one of our sleep experts at sleeping.com, Nate is passionate about helping you get the best night’s sleep possible.

Medical Disclaimer: The content on this page should not be taken as medical advice or used as a recommendation for any specific treatment. Always consult your doctor before making any decisions.

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