Sleep is important. It plays a key role in the physical and mental health of your child. Without quality sleep, your child may experience irritability, increased stress, forgetfulness, low motivation and even depression.
While sleep requirements vary from person to person, most healthy children require around 8-11 hours of sleep every day. If your child isn’t getting the required amount of sleep each day, it may affect their health in the long run. Here are 7 ways to make your child sleep better.
Importance of Sleep
Sleep is an important part of everyone’s routine and a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that children who get adequate sleep have improved attention span, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health.
Sleep deprivation in kids is unhealthy. It could result in high blood pressure and a host of other conditions that aren’t good for your little one. So, if your child isn’t getting enough sleep, you need to act before it’s too late.
The recommended amount of sleep for children
- Children need around 8-11 hours of sleep to function optimally. But that range doesn’t apply to all kids. Some kids require more sleep, while the others require as little as 8 hours of sleep daily. The American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends:
- Infants below 1 year need 12-16 hours of sleep
- Children between the ages of 1-2 years require 11-14 hours of sleep
- Children between the ages of 3-5 years require 10-13 hours of sleep
- Children between the ages of 6-12 require 9-12 hours of sleep
- Teenagers between the ages of 13-18 years require 8-10 hours of sleep
Most adults know the importance of sleep and often try to get as much as possible. On the other hand, children are ignorant of the importance of sleep, which is why we have kids who are tough to get to sleep, and those who have trouble staying asleep. If your kid is tough to get to sleep or is experiencing sleeping difficulties, these tips may help.
Tips to help your kids sleep better
1. Create a bedtime routine
Does your kid have a bedtime routine? If not, you may have to create one. Creating a regular bedtime routine and ensuring that your child sticks to it can encourage good sleeping patterns.
A bedtime routine that involves a relaxing bath and a captivating short story can help children—especially the younger ones—to feel ready for sleep. For teenagers, the routine might include quiet talks regarding how their day went, followed by some time alone unwinding before lights out.
2. Keep regular sleep and wake times.
Watching your kids sleep and wake up at different times each day may not seem like a big deal, but it is! Sticking to a particular sleep and wake time is important for your kid. It helps keep their body clock in a regular pattern, thus making them sleep and wake more easily.
3. Keep older children’s naps early and brief.
Does your child nap? It is common practice for kids aged 3-5 to nap often. If your kid is above the age of 5 and is still napping during the day, cut down on the nap time. Ensure that it isn’t more than 20 minutes and no later than early afternoon. Longer naps, especially those during late evenings, can make it difficult for children to fall asleep at night.
4. Check noise and light in your child’s bedroom.
Noises and bright lights can interfere with your child’s sleep. Blue lights from TVs, computer screens, phones and tablets reduces melatonin levels, thus making it hard for your child to sleep.
Switching off all gadgets with blue lights can make your kid sleep faster. If your kid uses a nightlight, go for a dim, warm-colored globe. A bright, white, multichromatic globe is a no-no.
Aside from light, noise can also make sleep hard for your child. It creates restlessness in sleep, even if they don’t wake your kids fully.
5. Make certain changes in their room
Sometimes, the source of your child’s sleeplessness may be due to their bedroom accessory or arrangement. The temperature of your kid’s room may be the reason he finds it hard to get a quality sleep every night.
What about the nature of their room? If your kid’s room is cluttered, it may hinder their sleep. The same with their bed and its accessories.
Is your kid’s bed torn or sagging? Change it! What about the covering? Is it old and dirty, riddled with holes or doesn’t promote sleep? If yes, then you must consider linen bed sheets as an ideal replacement. These breathable sheets help in insulating your kid’s skin during winter and cool it in summer.
6. Ensure your child feels safe at night.
If your child is often anxious about going to bed or scared of monsters in the dark, you can praise and reward your child whenever they are brave. Avoiding horror movies and games can help too.
Some kids with bedtime fear feel better when sleeping with the lights on. If that’s the case with your kid as well, make sure to allow them to sleep in an environment of their choice for enabling a good night’s sleep.
7. Cut down on stimulation before bedtime.
Discourage your kids from watching movies, pressing their phones, or playing games a few hours before bedtime. Why? Because the blue light emitted by their phone or TV screens can interfere with their brain’s production of melatonin at night, thus making it difficult for them to fall asleep.
To ensure greater compliance, make an effort to keep all media devices away from their bedroom, especially after lights out. Your kids shouldn’t use electronics as a sleep aid.
What should you do if none of this works? Are there medications to try?
If your child is finding it difficult to sleep or is experiencing learning difficulties that you think result from lack of sleep, you could try out the tips mentioned above. However, if they aren’t effective in your child’s case, it makes sense to visit your pediatrician.
We wouldn’t recommend giving your child any “sleep medications” without first hearing what your doctor has to say. Some of the sleep meds out there are unsafe for your kid.
Sleep is important for the growth and development of your child. Parents of teenagers and children experiencing poor sleep should consider contacting a doctor for help if things get out of hand.