You know how it feels to go through the day grumpy or with low energy because you didn’t get enough sleep. Did you realize your kids might be feeling that too? Kids act differently when they lack sleep or have poor sleep. Sometimes they become hyper, disagreeable or show extreme behaviors.
Kids need plenty of sleep to rest their growing bodies and minds. Children that get enough sleep also have a healthy immune system and can regulate their bodies. The amount of sleep impacts them socially, emotionally and physically.
Sleep is a basic building block for your child’s health and happiness, just like food and regular exercise. Sleep not only makes life more peaceful and enjoyable, it’s a basic need that affects your child’s happiness, success, and health.
BENEFITS OF SLEEP
Sleep is crucial for children’s overall development and well-being. Here are some of the key benefits of sleep for kids:
- Behavior and Attention: Inadequate sleep can lead to hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty regulating emotions, all of which can affect a child’s behavior and attention span. Getting enough sleep helps promote self-regulation and improves focus.
- Safety: Sleep deprivation increases the risk of accidents and injuries, particularly in activities that require alertness and coordination. Well-rested children are more likely to be attentive and cautious, reducing the chances of accidents.
- Growth and Development: During sleep, growth hormones are released which facilitate physical growth and development. Sleep also supports the immune system, which helps the body to fight off illnesses effectively.
- Brain Functioning: Sufficient sleep is linked to better concentration, and problem-solving skills in children. It helps improve memory consolidation, learning, and information processing, enabling children to perform better academically.
- Emotional Well-being: A good night’s sleep plays a vital role in regulating emotions and promoting mental health in children. It contributes to emotional resilience, reduces irritability, and enhances overall mood stability, thereby reducing the risk of behavioral problems.
- Physical Health: Sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. Sufficient rest helps strengthen the immune response, reducing the risk of illnesses and infections in children. It also aids in the recovery process when children do get sick.
IMPORTANCE OF BEDTIME ROUTINE
Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is key for your child to get a good night’s sleep. It is the key to helping them transition smoothly into sleep.
1. Set a consistent bedtime: Determine an age-appropriate bedtime for your child and keep it consistent. A regular sleep schedule helps regulate their internal body clock and makes it easier for them to fall asleep.
2. Start winding down for bed about 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. This will signal to your child that it’s time to relax and prepare for sleep. Use calming activities to promote relaxation.
3. Develop a series of activities that help your child to know that it is time to get ready for sleep. These include: getting pajamas on, brushing teeth, reading a book, taking a bath.
4. Shut down electronics at least an hour before bed. The blue light given off by these devices can interfere with the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. This can make it harder for your child to fall asleep.
5. Create a calm sleep environment to ensure your child can fall asleep. Keep the bedroom quiet, cool and dark. Use comfortable bedding to make it cozy for your child.
6. Comfort your child. Spend a few minutes with your child by talking about their day and letting them know how much you love them.
It may be difficult for your child to fall asleep or stay asleep. Here are a few strategies to try if needed.
- Reassure your child that they are safe and that you are near them.
- Establish a bedtime routine.
- Give them a special object. Help your child choose an object to keep with them in bed. This might be something of yours like a picture, shirt or whatever comforts them.
- Focus on calm, rather than sleep. Help them to feel calm and tune into how their body feels before they sleep.
- Avoid high-energy activities an hour before bed.
THINGS TO SAY TO HELP THEM SLEEP
- I see your tears. Bedtime is hard. I understand you don’t want me to leave.
- I won’t leave you alone. Even if I’m not in your room, I’ll be close by in the house.
- I’m walking out. I will be back in a few minutes. I am going to give you a kiss.
- Bedtime is tricky. I wonder what could make it easier.
- I’ll rub your back while I sit by you.
AMOUNT OF SLEEP KIDS NEED
The specific sleep needs vary depending on their age, with younger children typically requiring more sleep than older ones. Here are the general recommendations for different age groups:
- Newborns to Toddlers need from 11 to 17 hours a day.
- Preschoolers need about 10 to 13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
- School-age children and teens should aim for 9-11 hours of sleep per night.
In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, it’s crucial to prioritize sleep for children. Sleep is a fundamental aspect of a child’s overall well-being and development. High quality sleep is essential for children, as it directly impacts their physical growth, cognitive abilities, emotional regulation, and overall health. There are many benefits that sleep provides for children. It’s important to establish healthy sleep habits from an early age. By prioritizing sleep for our children, you are providing them with habits to thrive and reach their full potential.
IS MY CHILD GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP?
BY DR. KIM GRENGS, ED. D., PARENT COACH