The simple fact is that our kids are so busy and so distracted that they often don’t get enough sleep. Are you aware that children need 10 hours of sleep each night? When they miss sleep then they tend to try to make up that sleep by napping or sleeping late on the weekend. We don’t want our kids to be falling asleep at school. When they don’t sleep properly they lose focus at school. It is even thought that a lack of proper rest can lead to weight issues, as they may use food as a way to keep going when they are fatigued. Sleeping is vital to health. Even the immune system can be affected by a lack of rest.
Let’s talk about ways to help kids get a proper night’s rest!
- Get the electronics out of the bedroom. The bedroom should be a screen free zone. No TVs, video games, phones or iPad’s in the bedroom. Even when off, these items trigger our brain into thinking about the devices. Kids with devices in the bedroom tend to have lower grades in school and more sleeping problems. The bedroom needs to be a peaceful, quiet place to read and sleep.
- If possible, have a quiet area for the child to study outside of the bedroom. That way the bedroom can serve only for recreational reading and sleep. We are hard-wired as animals, and need a quiet dark den to settle down after a busy day. If there’s a stack of books in their room, you can imagine that it may trigger anxiety about school. What if you had to sleep next to a pile of your work?
- Teach proper sleep hygiene. By that I mean that you should encourage a regular schedule before bedtime, such as bath, book and bed. By doing so the routine allows for the child to anticipate the appropriate time to rest.
- Try to set regular and consistent times to get up and go to bed, even on the weekends. Being consistent helps kids to get into a rhythm.
- When going back to school after a summer holiday, gradually increase the wake times by 15 to 30 minutes each day in order to prepare them to go back to school. For example, if your kids sleep until 9am during the summer, then wake them at 8:45 am, then 8:30 am, then 8:15am, etc. until they are back on schedule. Do the same for bedtimes.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages, especially at dinner time or after.
- Discourage kids from sneaking into the parent’s bed. If they wake you with a bad dream, get up, hug them, and tuck them safely in their own bed before heading back to yours. Be consistent.
- If your child needs to get up at 7am, then they need to be settling in bed by 8:30pm in order to be able to drift off by 9pm.
- If your child struggles to get to sleep, talk to your pediatric health care provider about the use of melatonin. It comes in 3mg and 5mg and is an herbal substance which naturally relaxes and is thought safe for children. It is taken 1 hour before bedtime to aid sleep issues. Always discuss the use of any substance, even herbal substances, with your pediatric healthcare provider to see if it is safe for your child.
Helping your kids get enough sleep will keep them healthier, happier and lots less crabby. It can also assist them academically in the classroom. It may be worth limiting their extra-curricular activities to be sure that they can get their proper rest. Just talking about it makes me tired…. goodnight!