We often underestimate the impact that sleep has on our children’s lives. Many people perpetually sleep fewer than eight hours a night, thinking that the human body can just adapt to getting less sleep than what’s recommended. According to the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, 20 – 40 percent of school-aged children have sleep problems that could be affecting their schoolwork, along with their health and physical well-being. Not getting enough sleep or not getting the quality sleep necessary to stay healthy could be the cause of this issue.
“Synched internal clocks let your child to get quality sleep.”
What’s good sleep?
Many kids have jam-packed schedules, so it’s not always a surprise when naps are skipped or bedtime isn’t consistent each night. However, keeping your child’s sleep schedule as regular as possible is extremely beneficial. Not only does waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day make for more controlled circadian rhythm, but this synched internal clock will also allow him or her go through each necessary stage of sleep, leading to better quality rest.
How do I promote good sleep in my home?
In addition to making sure that your child goes to sleep and wakes up at the same time every day, there are plenty of ways that you can promote quality sleep at home. While it can feel like pulling teeth to get kids ready to go to sleep, begin putting a few of these methods in action, and you may find that your kids actually begin to feel sleepy around bedtime. This makes your job of getting them to bed much easier:
- Have your kids run around and play outside before dinner and take it easy after dinner. While exercise definitely helps kids fall asleep, physical activity close to bedtime can get them too hyped up to rest.
- Turn the TV and phones off before bedtime. Instead of allowing your kids to watch TV until they go to sleep, read them a story or have them go to their rooms to read to themselves before catching some Z’s. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the light from the television and cell phones can hinder your body’s biological clock from realizing it’s time to wind down.
- Create an optimal sleep environment for your children. Make the room dark, cool and quiet. If they’re is afraid of the dark, invest in a low illumination night light to put your children at ease without disrupting their circadian rhythms.
How do I know if my child is sleep–deprived?
When you’re tired, you may find that you have a short temper. This is also a common sign that your child isn’t getting enough sleep. According to the Better Health Channel, many children exhibit moodiness or throw temper tantrums when they’re tired. Some other common signs of lack of sleep include falling asleep at school or on the couch while watching TV, hyperactivity and having a hard time getting out of bed. Older children may even see a slip in their grades, as daytime sleepiness often leads to impaired concentration in the classroom. Proper sleep is also a key factor in helping your children maintain a healthy weight. A study published in the BMJ found that kids who regularly got fewer than 10.5 hours of sleep at the age of 3 were 45 percent more likely to be overweight or obese by the age of 7 than kids to got adequate rest. This could be due to the fact that chronic sleep deprivation may affect the hormones that control hunger, causing kids to eat more than they need to and choose less-healthy snacks.
How much sleep do children need?
We always hear that adults require seven to nine hours of sleep, but children tend to need more for optimal function throughout the day. The Center for Parenting Education states that toddlers require between 12 and 14 hours of sleep per night, pre-schoolers require 11 to 13 hours, elementary schoolers need 10 to 11 hours and teens need at least 9.