Unlike adults, children don’t always appreciate the benefits of a good night’s sleep. While parents look forward to slipping under the covers at the end of a long day, kids find plenty of creative excuses to delay bedtime. Unfortunately, bedtime delays can decrease the quality and duration of your child’s sleep and affect his or her behavior and performance at school. Following a few of these suggestions can help you ensure that your child gets enough rest at night.
Pay Attention to Sleep Recommendations
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following daily sleep totals for kids:
- 4 to 12 Months. 12 to 16 hours
- 1 to 2 Years. 11 to 14 hours
- 3 to 5 Years. 10 to 13 hours
- 6 to 12 Years. Nine to 12 hours
- 13 to 18 Years. Eight to 10 hours
Even slight sleep deficits can affect your child’s grades. A Savvy Sleeper survey revealed that high schoolers who got 8.1 hours of sleep received mostly As, while their peers who only slept for 7.3 hours got Cs.
Control the Environment
Sleep environment plays a crucial role in sleep quality. Your child may have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep if he or she doesn’t have a dark, quiet place to sleep. The National Sleep Foundation reports that the 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimum temperature for quality sleep.
It can be difficult to sleep if your blanket is scratchy or your bed is too small. Kids can outgrow cribs or toddler beds quickly. Make sure your child’s bed is at least a foot longer than his or her height. Soft bedding and a supportive pillow (if your child is 2 or older) will help keep your child comfortable during the night.
Ban Digital Devices and TV Before Bed
Blue light from smartphones, laptops, tablets, and TVs can interfere with your child’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Ask your kids to turn off devices at least an hour before bed to prevent sleep quality problems.
Set a Bedtime
Kids are more likely to get the recommended amount of sleep when parents set and enforce bedtimes, according to a Canadian study. In fact, both kids and parents benefit when they go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Ideally, sleep and wake up times should be approximately the same whether it’s a weekend or weekday.
Chances are you would have trouble falling and staying asleep if you downed a big cup of coffee in the evening. Kids may have just as much difficulty if they drink caffeinated drinks in the hours before bedtime. Water or milk are better, healthier options.
Routines help your child wind down at the end of the day and set the stage for sleep. For younger children, the bedtime routine may include a bath and story, while older kids may enjoy board games, free play or reading a favorite book 30 to 60 minutes before turning the lights out. Starting routines early may even help prevent bedtime struggles as your child grows older.
Help Your Kids Relax
Stress doesn’t only affect adults. Worries about grades, friends or the monster under the bed can trigger stress and anxiety that make it hard for children and adolescents to fall asleep. Teaching your child meditation, calming yoga poses or progressive relaxation techniques can help them learn to relax at bedtime. Progressive relaxation involves tensing then relaxing muscle groups, starting with the lower part of the body first.
Does your child have sleep issues? We’ll find the source of the problem and offer suggestions and treatments designed to improve sleep quality. Contact us to schedule an appointment.
National Sleep Foundation: Find Out What the Ideal Thermostat Setting Is to Help You Snooze Longer
BMC Public Health: Do Parents’ Support Behaviours Predict Whether or Not Their Children Get Sufficient Sleep? A Cross-Sectional Study
National Sleep Foundation: Children and Sleep
Healthy Children: Healthy Sleep Habits
Savvy Sleeper: Costing Kids Sleep, 7/7/19