Adequate sleep is essential for good health, but it is not automatic for many people. For some, good sleep requires conscious effort and consistent behavior to become a life-long habit with all the health benefits.
What We Know
- Sleep is essential for many vital functions including development, energy conservation, brain waste clearance, modulation of immune responses, cognition, performance, vigilance, disease, and psychological state.
- The most common sleep problems in kids are related to bedtime resistance, delayed sleep onset and night walking.
- Sufficient sleep throughout childhood has proven to create a healthier immunity, support academics and overall emotional well-being (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016).
- Lifestyle weighs heavily upon sleep:
- Children must be physically active. Sixty minutes of cardio activity is recommended for a developing body. Outdoor play supports energetic, lively behavior.
- Limiting screen time, including cell phone use, specifically near bedtime, is helpful in preparing a body to sleep (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016).
- Sleep problems are a common for children experiencing stress and anxiety. A recent study revealed 20% of children aged eight to 17 report an excessive amount of worry (National Sleep Foundation, 2019). Parents can help decrease their child’s stress by implementing a sleep routine.
- Lack of sleep causes irritability, increased stress, forgetfulness, difficulties with learning and low motivation. Over time, it can contribute to anxiety and depression.
What Can You Do
Create a sleep routine and follow it every night:
- Sleep routines are predictable, relaxing, comforting, and enjoyable.
- Bedtime rituals are another opportunity for parents to connect and strengthen the parent-child relationship.
- Parents can shape a child’s perspective on the power of sleep.
- Keep your own emotions in check and be present and committed to the sleep routine. Often parental frustration leads to inconsistency.
- Begin the bedtime routine thirty minutes prior to designated time.
- Do Not Rush: Rushing through the ritual defeats the intent. It is important to limit these activities to less than 30 minutes nightly and maintain consistent patterns.
- Read or sing with your child in bed.
- No caffeinated beverages for at least 6 hours before bed.
- Develop consistent and age appropriate sleep and wake schedules including limiting naps for older children.
- Maintain a comfortable and calming sleep environment. Keep the bedroom temperature slightly cool and eliminate any distracting noises, such as computers, televisions, and cell phones.
- Create an environment that’s quiet, has dim lighting and cool temperature.
- Bedtime Bath: Science has shown that bathing produces a drop in core body temperature, which helps to start the sleep cycle.