Quality sleep is a vital part of our health and well-being. Getting enough rest is especially important for growing children. School-age children need approximately 9–11 hours of sleep every night. A lack of sleep can affect grades, social interactions, even a child’s growth and development. Following are some tips to help get your kids to fall asleep easier and stay asleep through the night.
Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Children thrive on routine. Setting a consistent bedtime and wake-up time will help your child sleep better. It can be tempting to allow a child to sleep in on the weekend, but doing so may make it harder for your child to sleep during the week. Except for the rare event, children should be going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time every day. A nightly routine of pre-bedtime activities should be part of your sleep schedule. Nightly bath time, brushing teeth, and reading favorite books are effective cues that bedtime is approaching.
Plan Quiet Time Before Bed
For best sleep, experts recommend quiet, calming activities for up to an hour before bedtime. Those activities can include reading, listening to music, or taking a bath. Using screens (such as personal phones and televisions), rough horseplay, and other stimulating activities can make it harder for kids to fall and stay asleep. This quiet transitional time doesn’t need to take place in the bedroom but should conclude there. Children should be falling asleep in their rooms, not elsewhere and being carried to bed.
Avoid Going to Bed Hungry, but Beware of Caffeine
Many kids benefit from a small snack before bed, but the wrong type of snack can hurt sleep. Kids should avoid caffeine from mid-afternoon thru bedtime, as it can make it difficult for kids to wind down and fall asleep. Chocolate, many kinds of pop, iced tea, and energy drinks all contain caffeine and should be avoided. Large, heavy meals should be avoided close to bedtime. Snacks such as fruit, milk, or cereal are all good contributors to healthy sleep.
Keep Bedrooms at a Comfortable Temperature
Bedrooms should be dark and quiet for the best sleep. But did you know that bedrooms should also be cool? Body temperature decreases as we fall asleep. For the best night’s sleep, bedrooms should be kept between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Many modern thermostats can be set to drop the temperature at bedtime, helping ensure an easier transition to sleep. Keeping your HVAC system well maintained will ensure that your home stays at a comfortable temperature all night long.
Good rest can make a world of difference for all of us. Children are especially vulnerable to issues when they don’t get enough sleep. Tired kids can struggle to learn and socialize, and have behavior issues. By using these tips, you can ensure that your children (and you) fall asleep easier and stay asleep through the night.