Most parents know that getting enough sleep is essential for a child’s development, but a new study has found that the majority of kids are not getting the proper amount of sleep these days. According to the research, 52 percent of American children ages six to 17 are sleeping less than the recommended nine hours per night. The study has also revealed that sleep deprived kids may have more behavioral, academic, health, anxiety, and mood-related problems, which is why parents and children should understand the importance of sleep. A media curfew and a proper sleep environment can all help kids to get some sleep, but surprisingly, letting siblings share a room can also help them to fall asleep faster, especially if one is a nervous sleeper or has a tough time being alone. There are several ways to make this sleeping arrangement work, so for better bedtimes, here’s a guide to proper room-sharing for siblings.
Have them sleep in separate beds
One of the mistakes that parents often make when enforcing room sharing is letting their kids sleep in one bed. Not only will this cause arguments about lack of space or blanket hogging, but it will also prevent them from getting enough sleep. To help your kids sleep well, let them sleep in separate beds. Have two twin beds inside the room, or one twin bed with a pull out bed so each child can have their own sleeping space.
For a space saving option, opt for a bunk bed. Look for the best bunk beds with safety features, such as guard rails, a sturdy staircase or ladder, and high weight limits. For added safety, place the bunk bed against a wall, and install a light near or above the ladder so that kids can go up and down safely at night. If three children will be sharing a room, look for adult bunk beds that come with a trundle bed. To minimize fights, assign beds to each child rather than letting them pick for themselves, and never let kids younger than six sleep on the top bunk. Pad all the beds with a comfortable mattress, and allow your children to pick their own bed sheets so they can personalize their beds.
Kids with compatible bedtimes should room together
Putting younger kids with teenagers in one room can be a recipe for disaster, since they have different bedtime routines, as well as incompatible bedtimes and wake up times. Plan on rooming kids who are close in age so that they can go to bed and wake up at around the same time. If this isn’t possible, put your younger child to bed first, and let your older child spend some time outside of their shared room. Help them establish a bedtime routine, such as washing up and brushing their teeth and putting on pajamas; then read them a story before leaving the room.
Meanwhile, your partner can spend some time bonding with your older child while you’re putting your other child to bed. You can also encourage your older child to spend the extra hour doing a mindful activity, such as reading, listening to soothing music, or journaling in the living room before going to bed. Install a night light near your older child’s bed so that they won’t have to turn on the lights to get ready for bed.
Enforce bedtime rules
Enforcing bedtime rules is a must to help children sleep better while sharing a room. Call a family meeting, and let them know about the times when they’re expected to be in bed, and what time they should wake up on school days and weekends. Give each child their own alarm clock if they have different wake up times, and if they’re old enough, teach them to set it so they can do it every night before going to bed.
Children should also be taught to stay quiet if their sibling is still sleeping. Kids who wake up early during the weekends should read quietly or leave the room if they want to play games. If one child prefers to do the latter, make a few alterations to their door to reduce noise or stop it from slamming. You can install a foam strip or felt pads along the edge of the door frame to slow down the door as it closes, or for a permanent solution, install hydraulic and pneumatic door closers to resolve accidental (or deliberate) door slamming issues.
Let them clean up their room
Some kids are fine with sleeping in a messy room, but others can’t sleep unless their room is perfectly clean and spotless. Excessive clutter in a shared space can create unhappiness and cause arguments among siblings. Moreover, it can be detrimental to sleep quality, as people who sleep in cluttered rooms are more likely to have a difficult time falling asleep. To create a healthier and more peaceful environment for your children, create a clean up schedule for them to follow.
Make it a rule that they should make their beds every morning upon getting up, and they should spend at least 15 minutes tidying up their room everyday to control the mess. They should also have dedicated places for their belongings, so give each child their own closet, shelf, and storage bins for their clothes, books, toys, and other belongings. Place a laundry basket in their room to hold their dirty clothing, as well as a garbage can, which should be emptied every day. Teach them to change the sheets and pillow cases every week, and once a month, schedule a deep cleaning day for their bedroom. Go over surfaces with a sponge dipped in a nontoxic disinfectant solution to get rid of germs and grime. Don’t forget to vacuum carpets, bedding, and the windows to eliminate dust and allergens, which can prevent your children from sleeping well.
Sharing a room can help anxious children to sleep better, and it allows siblings to grow closer, even if they argue from time to time. For successful room sharing, make sure that each child has their own bed, help them establish a bedtime routine, enforce rules, and encourage them to keep their room clean and organized. Help them to solve disputes and create boundaries so they can get along, and be patient if they bicker during the first weeks of room sharing. Eventually, they’ll learn to coexist peacefully in their shared space, and get better sleep every night.