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Sleep well, live well – How to manage your child’s overtiredness

Posted on August 22nd, 2023

Parenting can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One common struggle that many parents face is dealing with an overtired child. 

An overtired child is one who has become excessively tired and has a hard time settling down, sleeping, or behaving calmly. Trying to manage an overtired child can be a grueling process for parents. But with the right approach, parents can effectively handle their sleep-deprived children and help them get much-needed rest and relaxation.

Recognizing the signs of overtiredness

Common signs of overtiredness include the following: 

  • Crankiness
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Increased clinginess
  • Hyperactivity
  • Meltdowns

When parents recognize and understand these signs, they can respond appropriately and provide the necessary support to help their children fall asleep. 

Establish a consistent sleep routine 

One of the most effective ways to handle an overtired child is by establishing a consistent sleep routine. A well-structured sleep routine helps regulate children’s internal clocks, making it easier for them to fall asleep and wake up at appropriate times. 

Here are some tips to establish a solid sleep routine: 

Set regular bedtimes and wake-up times, even on weekends. Consistency is key when it comes to a child’s sleep schedule.

Before your child’s bedtime, make time for them to wind down. It’s helpful for children to ease into sleep mode by performing calm, relaxing activities before bed. These activities could include…

  • Taking a warm bath or shower 
  • Reading a book 
  • Listening to soothing music 
  • Engaging in a quiet conversation 

It’s also helpful to dim the lights and reduce noise levels during your child’s wind-down time. 

Create a calm and soothing environment 

Designing a calm and soothing environment can help a lot with handling an overtired child. A comfortable and cozy sleep environment, free from distractions, helps signal to your child that it’s time to prepare for sleep. 

Encourage relaxation techniques

Teaching your child relaxation techniques can be an invaluable way to handle overtiredness. Deep breathing exercises, gentle stretching, or even a little meditation can help promote relaxation and prepare your child for sleep. Parents can introduce these activities as part of their child’s bedtime routine. Children should practice these activities regularly to create a sense of familiarity and comfort.

Avoid stimulating activities

To handle an overtired child, it’s important to avoid stimulating activities close to bedtime. This includes limiting screen time, particularly in the hour leading up to bedtime. The blue light emitted from electronic devices can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. Instead, encourage your children to perform calm and quiet activities, such as reading, drawing, or listening to soft music.

Provide comfort and reassurance 

When dealing with an overtired child, instead of getting annoyed or frustrated, parents should offer comfort and reassurance. Sometimes, children may struggle to articulate their feelings or fears, and this can lead to heightened anxiety or restlessness. 

So spend some extra time with your child, offer gentle words of reassurance, and provide physical comfort through hugs or cuddles. This creates a sense of security and helps them feel safe and loved.

Adjust nap and bedtime schedules

Parents of younger children who still need naps may need to adjust their children’s nap and bedtime schedules. Children who are consistently overtired may need to transition to fewer or shorter naps during the day. That way, they are tired enough to sleep well at night. Consulting with a pediatrician can provide guidance on age-appropriate sleep patterns for children.

Handling an overtired child requires patience, understanding, and a willingness to establish a consistent routine. Every child is unique, so it may take some trial and error to find the approach that works best. But when parents recognize the signs of overtiredness and implement these strategies, they can help their children relax and get the rest they need. 

Dr. Meghna Dassani has practiced dentistry for over two decades and is passionate about the role dentists play in whole-body health. You can learn more at her website:

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