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.
Make family sleep a top priority
Everyone in the family should have regular bedtimes and wake-up times, and you should all stick to them, especially on the weekends. Children who fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes of going to bed, wake up easily in the morning, and do not doze off during the day are getting enough sleep.
Work as a team
It is essential to plan ahead with your spouse or partner and come to an agreement on a sleep strategy before implementing it consistently. You cannot expect your children to learn or behave differently if this is the case.
Make your children a part of the team by describing the new plan to them if they are old enough to understand if you are starting a new sleep routine for them. When teaching a new habit to a young child, try utilizing a visual chart that depicts acts like changing clothing, cleaning teeth, and reading a book.
If children do not understand how to resolve conflicts while they are young, they’ll never be able to do it correctly as adults. Even if you should not choose a side in a dispute between siblings, you should still try to mediate it by paying attention as soon as it begins. Make a list of regulations that you can refer to and enforce as one piece of advice. Even if your children cannot read yet, writing things down is quite helpful. “We are a family, and we always sort things out,” “No nasty voices or yelling,” and “We always clean up our own messes” are a few suitable statements for the list.
Make realistic goals for yourself
Put your children up for success by preparing them for the future as well as their environment. Establish your goals and expectations before speaking with them, though. These expectations should be adjusted based on your children’s abilities. Then, discuss the limitations and any potential repercussions with them.
Be aware that the first few nights will be difficult for them to live up to your expectations. Children will have a tougher time adjusting after you go, especially if they are enthusiastic about the change. While you should not reduce your standards as a result, there may be some room for grace and, where necessary, consequence follow-through.
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.
Keep in mind that sharing a room becomes simpler over time
It probably will not be simple to rearrange your kids’ sleeping arrangements at first. Your children will likely wake up more frequently at night and likely experience more restless nights in the beginning (change is never easy, is it?). But rest assured that things will improve! Your kids should get used to their new sleeping schedule after that has done. In fact, your children might discover that they become reliant on sharing a room for sleep after they get used to it.
Even when you group kids of comparable ages together, issues can (and probably will) arise at some point. Understanding problems can help you prepare for ways to solve them.
A child’s roommate may suffer if they have problems falling asleep or staying asleep. Children who have underlying sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnea (snoring), sleepwalking, or insomnia may disturb their sibling’s sleep. A cranky kid at bedtime or a restless child during the night might disturb siblings.
Opposites Don’t Always Attract
While one kid enjoys using a nightlight, the other needs total darkness to fall asleep. While the other youngster demands silence before they can sleep, one wants a noise maker. Children with various personalities are bound to get on one another’s nerves. It might be difficult to encourage kids who have diverse ideas of what they find “restful” to sleep together in the same space.
Some kids babble nonstop because they are so happy to finally get their sibling’s entire attention. Even if the other sibling claims they need to relax, the nightly conversations might continue. In addition to being worn out and irritable, a youngster who needs peace and quiet can dislike having a roommate who will not allow them to get any sleep.
Even when a roommate arrangement is perfect, it can occasionally cause kids to depend on their sibling to fall asleep, making alternative room arrangements—on vacation, at camp, or after a move—complicated.
The Best Ways to Share a Room
A fantastic method to lessen the difficulties that sharing a room and coping with bedtime routines can bring is to get creative and get the kids on board with your plans.
The idea of having to put a toddler to bed in the early evening may make a school-age child groan. Giving older kids the freedom to stay up later can give them the independence they long for. Also, it can help young child practice falling asleep on their own by the time their older sibling goes to bed.
Maintain a Schedule and Allow Children to Participate
Consistent habits at night can ease problems with sharing a room. Children with nighttime routines are better focused and more attentive.
Expectations are helped by setting boundaries for how to handle nighttime and interactions with siblings. These restrictions may include a deadline for finishing any reading or toy-playing before bed, a limit on water consumption, and a time limit on sibling chatter when the lights are off.
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.