Is your child getting enough high-quality sleep? If the answer is no, they are not alone.
Data from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that sleep-related issues impact between 25 and 50 percent of children and approximately 40 percent of adolescents.
Sleep is often sacrificed amid hectic schedules and endless distractions. The alarming prevalence of insufficient sleep touches every demographic. But what’s even more concerning is that children, the budding minds of tomorrow, are not exempt from this global predicament.
The repercussions of inadequate sleep extend beyond mere tiredness and unpleasant behavior. Among other things, they delve into developmental setbacks, compromised academic performance, and potential impacts on mental health.
With pressures from school, peers, and home life, children need to recharge and regain the energy to face everyday challenges. As such, ingraining the importance of good sleep hygiene should begin as soon as your child starts receiving early childhood education in Singapore. Establishing lifelong habits for restful sleep, after all, promotes better physical and mental well-being, helping a child navigate the demands of their growing years.
How Much Sleep Does Your Child Need?
The recommended amount of sleep varies depending on a child’s age. Here are general guidelines provided by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine:
- Infants (4-12 months) need 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours, including naps.
- Toddlers (1-2 years) need 11-14 hours of sleep per 24 hours, including naps.
- Preschoolers (3-5 years) need 10-13 hours of sleep per 24 hours, including naps.
- School-age children (6-12 years) need 9-12 hours of sleep per night.
- Teenagers (13-18 years) need 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
It’s important to note that individual sleep needs can vary, but the recommendations provide a general framework.
How Can You Help Your Child Get Enough Sleep?
As parents, it is our responsibility to foster an environment conducive to healthy sleeping habits for our children. To help you along on this mission, here are a few approaches to consider:
Establish a Nighttime Routine
Consistency is key when it comes to bedtime routines. When establishing a nighttime routine, create a soothing, predictable sequence of activities to signal to a child’s brain that it’s time to wind down.
This can include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or engaging in quiet play. By establishing a reliable nighttime routine, children can transition from the busyness of the day to the tranquility of bedtime more smoothly.
Set Up a Cozy Sleep-Friendly Bedroom for Your Child
Your child’s sleep environment significantly influences the quality of rest they receive. That’s why you need to ensure your child’s bedroom is a haven of comfort and tranquility.
First, settle on a mattress that matches your child’s most favored sleeping position. Side sleepers should look for medium soft to medium-firm mattresses, while back sleepers should opt for medium-firm to firm mattresses. This is based on the recommendations of the Sleep Foundation.
The room’s temperature is another factor that can contribute to the quality of your child’s sleep. Also, according to the Sleep Foundation, the ideal temperature for sleeping is anywhere between 15.6 to 20 degrees Celsius (60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit). Of course, this will still vary from person to person, so consider your child’s preferences, and involve them in creating a space that they’ll find calming and restful.
Limit Screen-Time and Ban All Screens Before Bedtime
The glow of screens, be it from TVs, tablets, or smartphones, can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. According to experts, the blue light emitted by screens stimulates the brain and disrupts the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates sleep. This is why we feel less sleepy while scrolling mindlessly through social media content.
To ensure your child sleeps on time, establish a technology-free zone at least an hour before their bedtime. Instead of screens, encourage activities that promote relaxation, such as reading a physical book or engaging in gentle conversation.
Don’t Let Your Child Sleep Hungry but Avoid Large Meals
Balancing hunger and the timing of meals is crucial when encouraging your child to sleep. Set your family’s dinner time 2 to 3 hours before bedtime or allow your child to have a small, healthy snack before bedtime if they still feel hungry.
However, avoid giving large meals close to bedtime, which may lead to indigestion and discomfort. These will likely hinder their transition into restful sleep.
Encourage Physical Activity During the Day
Physical activity during the day has been shown to improve sleep quality. Hence, encourage your child to engage in age-appropriate activities that get them moving.
Whether it’s playing outdoors, participating in sports, or enjoying a family walk, regular physical activity contributes to better sleep patterns.
Avoid Giving Them Caffeinated Drinks
Caffeine, found in various beverages and even some snacks, can interfere with a child’s ability to fall asleep. As such, instead of giving them soda or energy drinks opt for alternatives like water, milk, or non-caffeinated herbal teas. This emphasizes the importance of staying hydrated without the stimulating effects of caffeine.
In the pursuit of nurturing healthy sleeping habits in your child, each step you take today can impact their future. By cultivating an environment that prioritizes healthy sleep, you are not just ensuring one night’s rest but also a healthy and restful sleep every night. Ultimately, this would revitalize your child’s health and make them resilient against the challenges ahead.