Your kiddo has had a full day of play, play, and more play. They’ve spent more energy than you can ever daydream of having and you’re *just positive* that they’re going to fall asleep as soon as their tiny little head hits the pillow. And then… it doesn’t happen. What’s going on? Research into children’s sleep offers a look into why routines are so important. If your tot isn’t getting their zzzs, here are some tips to help them (and you) rest.

Smiling mom and sleeping kid

1. Make sure you have regular bedtimes. A University of British Columbia literature review published in the journal Paediatric Respiratory Reviews found that children of all ages slept better when their parents set strict sleep guidelines. So don’t feel bad about enforcing your 8pm bedtime rule seven nights a week.

2. Limiting technology can help. After looking at 44 studies from 16 countries that included children from four months through 18 years, the researchers found that the less tech time kids had before bedtime, the better they slept. And better sleep means a happy, healthy child! That means nixing video games, computer use, or other screen-based activities as that magic hour approaches.

3. Keep other routines going. Surprisingly, bedtime routines aren’t the only “routines” that affect sleep. Research out of New Zealand points to value of family dinners in helping children to sleep. And that’s just another reason to sit down, relax, and eat a meal together nightly — even if it’s take-out.

4. Commutes are key. You pick your son or daughter up from preschool. Yay! And then you drive 45 minutes home. Or maybe you take two buses and a subway. Longer commutes may equal short sleep times. While there’s not much you can do about the amount of time that your commute takes, you can change what happens when you get home. Jump into a relaxing routine and turn off the TV.

5. Find the right before-bed rituals. Every child is different, and every child needs their own special pre-sleepy-time routine. Whether this means reading a specific picture book, telling imaginative tales, singing songs, or something else, these rituals can help your child to drift off to dreamland.

6. Go caffeine-free. Your tot probably isn’t chugging lattes. But caffeine can sneak into their daily diet in ways that you might not expect. Along with the obvious culprits, such as tea or soda, chocolate is a caffeine source that can keep your little one up at night. Limiting overall daily caffeine intake can help them get more (and more restful) sleep.

7. Create a quiet place. Where your child sleeps is just as important as how they sleep. Create a quiet sleep space that’s free from other distractions. (This means no TV in their room.) If your child needs a white noise machine or soothing tunes to drift off, that’s okay.

8. Keep wake-ups consistent. A sleep schedule doesn’t only include bedtimes. Try to wake your child up at or around the same time daily. This helps to create an overall sleep routine, leading to a well-rested tot.

9. Darken the room. Falling asleep in the bright, blaring light of a 60-watt bulb isn’t easy. But sleeping in a dark room is. Kiddos who aren’t thrilled about a totally dark room can sleep with a nightlight, which won’t emit enough light to completely distract your child.

What’s your bedtime tip? Share your pick and tweet us @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)