Wanted to grab your attention with the title - hope it worked. So I am sure you are wondering what you can do to get a child to fall asleep faster...
How about a guess -
A. Warm milk and cookies
B. TV before bed
C. Sleeping in Mom's bed
D. Increase activity.
If you answered D you are correct. A recent study in Archives of Disease in Childhood found that the more activity 7 year olds got during the day the faster they fell asleep. Five hundred ninety one seven year olds wore actigraphs to determine activity levels. In addition, the amount of time it took the child to fall asleep was measured (sleep onset latency). Children who were more active (vigorous activity for one hour throughout the day) fell asleep 6 minutes faster. Another bonus was that the children who fell asleep faster slept for longer periods.
One more reason to encourage your children to be active for your own sake! I would love to see research on the amount of time spent outdoors during wake time and its effects on sleep onset latency. My humble hypothesis, fresh air wears you out and you fall asleep faster.
Reference: Nixon GM, Thompson JM, Han DY, Becroft DM, Clark PM, Robinson E, Waldie KE, Wild CJ, Black PN, Mitchell EA Falling asleep: the determinants of sleep latency. Arch Dis Child. 2009 Sep;94(9):686-9.