How much sleep does your child need?
Are they sleeping enough?
What should parents do to ensure their kids get adequate rest?
Sleep deprivation has become a common problem for both adults and children today. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 40 million American adults have chronic insomnia. Lack of sleep can cause behavioural problems, learning difficulties, and even obesity for children.
Children who don't get enough sleep tend to have higher cortisol levels (a stress hormone) in their blood. Cortisol levels can affect a child's ability to focus, remember things and pay attention.
In addition, they may also experience increased appetite and cravings for junk food. Parents should give their kids at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
This blog post will discuss why healthy sleep is essential for your child and some simple tips to help your child with healthy sleep.
Why is Healthy Sleep important for your child?
Healthy sleep is essential for every living thing on earth. It helps our bodies recover from daily activities and prepares us for the next day.
Lack of sleep can lead to severe health conditions such as depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and many other medical issues.
Everyone needs healthy sleep, but it's especially crucial for children because their brains are still developing during early childhood. They are more vulnerable to illnesses and diseases if they don't get enough sleep.
It's not surprising that kids often complain about being tired and having trouble falling asleep. Studies show that most school-age children wake up between 3 and 5 times each night. It means that they spend one-third of their lives awake!
How much sleep does my child need?
The amount of sleep you need depends on how old your child is. The average number of hours of sleep required changes throughout childhood. Children aged 2 years require 10 - 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep, while teenagers need around 9 hours of sleep.
The best way to find out what kind of sleep your child needs is to observe his behaviour. If your kid wakes up multiple times during the night, then chances are he requires less sleep than someone who sleeps through the night without waking up once.
If your child seems tired or doesn’t seem interested in playing with friends, then he probably needs more sleep. On the other hand, if your child appears energetic and excited after spending time with his friends, then he might be getting enough rest.
What should I do to make sure my child gets enough sleep?
There are several ways to ensure your child gets enough sleep:
Make sure your child goes to bed and gets up simultaneously every day
It will help him develop good sleeping habits. He won't feel like he is missing anything when he misses a few days of sleep.
Keep your child away from screens an hour before bedtime
Screen time includes TV, computers, tablets, smartphones, etc (Sleeping with the phone). These devices emit blue light, making it harder for your child to fall asleep.
Avoid caffeine and sugar
Caffeine stimulates activity in the brain and leads to insomnia. Sugar causes drowsiness and keeps your child awake for more extended periods.
Make sure your child has plenty of water
Drinking lots of water helps your body relax and promotes sound sleep.
Avoid naps during the day
Children tend to nap more frequently when they are young. However, resting too late in the afternoon can disrupt their nighttime sleep cycle.
Provide regular meals and snacks
Eating small meals regularly throughout the day reduces hunger pangs and encourages your child to eat more. Snacks keep your child energized until dinner time.
Let your child have some fun before going to bed
Playing games, reading books, listening to music, watching movies, etc., can help your child unwind so that he falls asleep faster.
Be patient and consistent
Don't expect overnight results from following these tips. It takes time to train your child to go to sleep quickly (How long to sleep). But as soon as he learns to self-soothe himself into sleep, you'll see positive results right away.
How many hours of sleep does your child need?
Your child's age determines the number of hours he needs. For example, toddlers usually need 11-13 hours of sleep per day, while teens require 8-9 hours.
How to create a bedroom environment for a child?
How do you know if your child needs more sleep? If your child starts having trouble falling asleep by himself, waking up several times during the night, or staying awake longer than usual on weekends.
Here are the tips for creating calming sleep environment for your child:
A Tidy Bedroom
Bedtime routines should include tidying up the room and clearing away any distractions. Toys and TV should be kept out of the bedroom.
Screens shouldn't be used before bedtime. The bed may leave a comforting stuffed toy or blanket. Bedtime routines should include tidying up the room, clearing away objects that take the attention away from sleeping, and keeping screens and playtime out of the bedroom.
It's okay to leave your child a comfort object such as a teddy bear or security blanket. It would help if you didn't leave a bottle with your child overnight because it could cause tooth decay.
Often, the noises in the house interfere with your child's sleep and wake them often. It is difficult for many homes to achieve complete silence.
If the other family members are awake, they are bound to create the noise, leading to disrupted sleep for the child. A white noise machine is an excellent rescue for such houses to produce a calming noise so that your child can sleep properly.
You can choose any low-key sound as the background noise. Make sure that the volume level is safe for your child that helps them with a comforting sleep.
Blackout curtains are an inexpensive solution to help babies and toddlers get better sleep. They block out too much light during the day, but they're helpful when you want to go to sleep earlier.
Excessive lighting delays the release of the sleep-inducing hormone, Melatonin, making it difficult for the kids to sleep. Here are some other tips that help you to regulate the lighting in the kid's room:
- Use a dimmer switch to control the brightness level.
- Keep lights off after 8 pm.
- Avoid using lamps near your baby's crib.
- Choose a soft white light instead of bright yellow bulbs.
Comfortable Mattress, Pillows, and Bedding
Children should always be placed in their beds. Soft items should never be left in the crib. Mattresses should be firm enough to support children but not too hard. Follow age-appropriate guidelines when choosing a mattress.
You should make sure that your child gets enough sleep. Children who earn less than 8 hours of sleep per night are more likely to be hyperactive. Make sure your child goes to bed at a regular time every night. Also, make sure they wake up early in the morning. Your child will feel refreshed if they have a good night's rest.
Lowering the Thermostat for Sleep
Sleeping is essential for children. They need to be warm enough to fall asleep but cool enough to wake up feeling refreshed.
The ideal room temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The air conditioner might be running at full blast in the summer months, which keeps the room cooler than necessary. To avoid this problem, lower the thermostat setting while your child sleeps.
Try using lavender oil or other essential oils in a diffuser for stubborn sleepers to help relax them. Smokeless around them because it causes sleep disorders. Keep them away from areas where there is secondhand smoke.
Try to make your child's room a tobacco-free zone if you smoke. High exposure to smoke also disrupts sleep in children.
Create a soothing environment that allows your child to relax and fall asleep quickly. Use these tips and tricks to create a calm atmosphere for your child to fall asleep fast!
Sleep Hygiene for kids
It is a collection of behaviours and habits inducing good sleep in your children. Poor sleep hygiene worsens sleep patterns and makes your child cranky. Here are some of the proven sleep strategies that can help your child with catching up good sleep:
Create a Routine
Following a consistent bedtime routine helps in settling down your child's clock. Your child's mind and body know when to sleep when they follow a specific routine.
You can include relaxing activities such as warm baths, reading, and brushing teeth in your child's routine to induce calming sleep. These routines cause comfort and a sense of familiarity to escape the problems of insomnia.
Physical activity is essential for your child to induce better sleep. Most of the children need 1-6 hours of exercise per day that helps them to sleep faster. Such activities help in the mental and physical development of your child.
Also, when your child exhausts during the day, it allows them to sleep better during the night. However, over-exhaustion is a strict no. An over-exhausted child finds it very difficult to sleep.
Also, avoid vigorous physical activity 2 hours before bedtime. The child will find it difficult to sleep correctly in such cases.
Avoid sleeping with a pet.
The peaceful slumber of your child hits by the noises and the pet's movements. It is always merrier to cuddle your pet while sleeping.
But in the case of your child, you should strictly avoid this habit. You can make the pet sleep outside the child's room to induce a sense of security in your child. To begin with, you can inculcate a habit of saying goodbye to pets in your bedtime routine.
Avoid the Violent Content
If your child remains scared or feels unsafe, they can never attain a peaceful sleep. Hence, it would help strictly avoid violent and scary movies, especially before bedtime.
Even such books are directly linked to scary dreams and should be avoided in the evenings. If your kid insists on reading the spooky books, ask them to be ready during the day.
When To See the Doctor
If nothing is working for your child and they continue having sleeping issues, it is essential to check with a doctor. Any delay to this can lead to severe consequences. Hence, you should seek the immediate help of a qualified doctor if you find:
- Severe snoring and unusual breathing
- Frequent awakening at night
- bedwetting and shivers while sleeping
- significant daytime sleeping
Sleep disorders are common among children. Some children have trouble falling asleep, while others wake up frequently throughout the night. There are many different types of sleep disorders, but most are treatable.
Your doctor may recommend a few nights of observation before diagnosing your child. You can also record your child's sleep diaries to see if you notice any changes in behaviours or routines.
Sleep Talking and Sleepwalking
Sleep talking is a relatively common problem among children. Proper sleep hygiene may help reduce these episodes. Sleepwalking is often accompanied by other sleep disorders such as night terrors and sleep paralysis.
Children who sleepwalk should be awakened half an hour before their usual sleepwalk time. It will prevent them from getting out of bed. In some instances, parents must get involved and restrain the child until they fall asleep.
Children need adequate sleep to develop physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. A healthy sleep pattern is essential for a child's growth and development. Inadequate sleeping leads to several health issues for your child.
It hinders the physical and mental growth of your child. You may find him anxious and cranky all the time. Therefore, it is necessary to have a proper sleep schedule for kids. Parents should follow specific tips to ensure sound sleep for their children.
If your child still struggles with proper sleep after adopting all the means, it's time to consult your doctor.