Good sleep is essential to your child’s development and well-being. When a child does not get the rest they need, it can result in a variety of behavioural and academic problems. Lack of sleep can mean lower test scores and increased irritability toward family and peers. Here are some tips for making sure your child gets the best night of sleep possible.
Why is sleep important for kids?
It is important for kids to get the amount of rest needed so that their bodies can properly function and develop. Getting a good night’s sleep keeps kids alert and energetic throughout the day and reduces their risk of various medical conditions. In addition to physical health, sleep allows kids’ minds to be more active during learning activities, helping them do better in school. Perhaps just as importantly, sufficient sleep helps kids pay attention when they are at home alone or out in public, which greatly increases their safety. With so much importance tied to kids getting enough rest each night, it’s no wonder that parents should always prioritize making sure kids have enough sleep every night.
How much sleep do kids need?
Depending on the age of the child, kids should get an average amount of sleep ranging from 10 to 14 hours a night. For kids aged 0 – 5 it is highly recommended that they get 12-14 hours of sleep a day, while kids aged 6 – 12 should aim for around 11 – 12 hours within each 24 hour period. Although kids between 13 and 18 hold more independence in their decision making, it is still important to ensure they are getting plenty of rest so that their health and safety are never compromised when they are home alone after school or during the weekends.
What are some ways to help kids get a good night’s sleep?
1 – Avoid foods and beverages containing caffeine and/or sugar
Many studies conclude that food and drink containing sugar or caffeine can lead to restlessness and sleep loss. If your child is allowed to consume these types of food, try to not allow them too close to bedtime. Even some adults find that anything containing caffeine or sugar past dinnertime is enough to disrupt their sleep; children are even more greatly affected.
2 – Decrease light pollution
Urban environments can have a lot of outside lights that make night-time a lot less dark than nature intended. This can have a very negative effect on the quality and soundness of sleep. The human body is naturally inclined to sleep through the darkest parts of the day. When we are exposed to too much light during these critical times, our body never gets true rest. Scientists call our deepest sleep REM. When you don’t sleep deeply you never reach this state of being. Thick curtains can reduce the effect of light pollution; however, modern window shutters are even better because they can reduce even more light.
3 – Temperature
It can be hard to fall asleep in a room that is too hot or too cold. A child must be comfortable in order to get the best night’s rest. Many homes are kept too warm for a restful night of sleep. Pay attention to see if your child sweats too much at night and adjust your thermostat accordingly.
4 – A consistent bedtime
Children can benefit from a consistent bedtime. This is usually increased as the child gets older and naturally needs less sleep to be rested and feeling their best.
5 – Limit electronics
Encouraging your child to do activities that don’t involve video games, computers, television, etc., might seem like a hard thing to do, but it can do a lot to improve the quality of their sleep. Starting at least an hour before bedtime, encourage music, books, story time, etc.
6 – Consider allergens
With more people than ever experiencing the discomfort of allergies, it is important to consider how this can affect sleep. If your child sounds congested or fidgets a lot, they might be experiencing allergic reactions to pyjamas or dust mites. Many doctors recommend that children sleep in cotton rather than synthetic fabrics since it allows for better heating and cooling during the night.
7 – Better sleep equals success
Helping your child get a better night’s sleep can yield incredible results in their behaviour, academic life, relationships and physical health. Although getting them used to a good sleep routine might be challenging at first, they will soon become used to it.