Sleeping Tips for Kids
Sleep and good night’s rest are important for everyone, but especially for kids. They are important for their healthy lifestyle, and various studies have shown that children who regularly get an adequate amount of a good night’s sleep have improved memory, attention, learning and overall physical and mental health.
On the other hand, not getting enough sleep can lead to various health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure and even depression.
Most children usually fall asleep within 20 minutes after going to bed. How really it takes them to fall asleep, depends on several factors such as how sleepy is your child and his daytime and bedtime routines.
During the night, your child goes through light sleep, deep sleep and dream sleep. Most of his deep sleep, you child gets during the first few hours after falling asleep. Light sleep and dream sleep occur later during the second half of the night.
However, not all children can easily fall asleep and stay asleep all night long. Nearly every parent has had to deal with the difficulty of putting their child to sleep at some point, and if you are dealing with the same problem, here is how you can solve it.
Know How Much Sleep Your Child Really Needs
Kids will need different amounts of sleep depending on their age. From the total amount of sleep kids need every night to their typical napping habits, you should understand the sleeping needs of children so you can set bedtime rules for your child easier.
Here is how much sleep kids need based on their age:
- 1 – 4 weeks old – Newborn babies need approximately 16-17 hours of sleep every day including periods of wakefulness that usually last 1-3 hours. However, as most newborns have not yet developed their sleep cycles, these periods of sleep and wakefulness may vary and most parents will have to adjust their own sleep habits to accommodate the needs of their babies.
- 1 – 4 months old – Babies of this age still need the same amount of sleep like the newborns but now their sleep cycles begin to develop which allows them to sleep longer during the night, although they will still wake up when it is time for feeding and changing.
- 4 months – 1 year – Babies of this age still need between 14-15 hours of sleep, but many of them will still be able to sleep through most of the night and take up to 3 naps during the day and evening. This is the period when you should begin to work on establishing healthy sleep habits for your child.
- 1 – 3 years – Toddlers usually require 12-14 hours of sleep, but often get less because of various things that can influence their sleep such as other kids in the house or their parents’ specific schedules. They will nap less as they will stop napping in the early morning and evening and take only one nap during the day.
- 3 – 6 years – Kids of this age approximately need 11-12 hours of sleep every day. Younger kids may still need a short nap during the day but as they grow, the need to nap will disappear.
- 7 – 12 years – Children of this age group need 10-12 hours of the nightly sleep, but they often get only 9-10 hours.
- 13 – 18 years – Teens usually require 8-10 hours of sleep, but they rarely get the amount they need. Their daily activities and schoolwork often cut into their nightly sleep so most teens are getting only 6-8 hours of sleep instead.
Set Up a Bedtime Routine
You should help your child establish a regular bedtime routine, which means that your child should go to bed every night at the same time and get up every morning at the same time. This will encourage healthy sleep patterns.
Also a bath right before bedtime or a story before sleep can help younger kids relax and fall asleep easier.
Relaxing before Bedtime
Besides a warm bath or a nighttime story, playing a relaxing music, talking softer and moving slower, dimming lights, etc. can help kids relax and stimulate them to fall asleep faster.
Your child will pick up such subtle changes as signs that bedtime is approaching and will fall asleep much faster. This routine can be changed a bit or entirely depending on what you find works better for your child’s needs.
Creating an Ideal Sleeping Environment
Try to arrange the room of your child in such way that will promote sleeping. Keep it clean, dark, quiet and cool. When children are still very little, they might need at least a little light in their room.
If they like silence, then you should keep all possible sources of noise away from their room. However, if they like noise or you want to drown out some other noises from the rest of the house, you can use a white noise machine or some appliance such as a fan or vacuum cleaner to create a rhythmic, steady sound.
Turning Off Electronics
Remove all electronic devices that promote wakefulness such as computers, televisions, mobile phones, etc. They promote wakefulness through both emitting the blue light and stimulating content. These devices should be turned off or taken away at least one hour before bedtime.
Exercising Regularly and Getting Enough Natural Light
It’s important that your child exercises regularly every day as this will help him fall asleep easier at night. Spending time outdoors in nature and getting plenty of natural light will also help your child feel more awake during the day and sleepy at night.
Eating at the Right Time and Avoiding Caffeine before Bedtime
Make sure your child has a good evening meal at a reasonable time. It should not be too heavy or too light. Feeling too full or hungry before bedtime will only make your child feel uncomfortable and more alert.
Also, make sure that your child doesn’t have any drinks containing caffeine and sugar before bedtime. If your child asks for a drink or food before bedtime you can give him a glass of milk or a light snack such as crackers or fruit.
Avoid Daytime Naps for Older Children
Most children stop napping until the age of 5. Daytime naps for children over 5 can make falling asleep at night harder. If older children are getting enough sleep during the night, there is no need for a daytime nap.
Make Sure Your Child Feels Safe at Night
If your child is afraid of going to bed alone or being alone in the dark, avoiding scary movies, TV shows and games before bedtime can help as well as praising and rewarding your child whenever he is brave. Some kids also feel safer when they have a night light.
Look for the Signs of Sleep Disorders
If you’ve established a regular bedtime routine for your child and made various adjustments to fit his needs and make going to bed, falling asleep and staying asleep for him easier and he is still having difficulties with falling asleep and staying asleep, then your child may have a sleep disorder.
In such case, if you suspect that your child may have a sleep disorder, you should talk with your child’s pediatrician and figure out what would be the best.