Simple Tips to Help Children get Healthy Sleep
As a parent, we all try to make sure our children get a healthy diet. But have you ever thought about whether your child is getting healthy sleep? Sleep is sleep, isn’t it?
The quality of children’s sleep can vary just as the quality of their diets do. Healthy sleep is as important as good nutrition and exercise for normal growth and development. Sleep also impacts daytime mood and functioning. If your child has poor grades or other difficulties in school, it’s possible that could be traced back to lack of sleep.
What makes sleep healthy?
Healthy sleep requires both enough sleep and good-quality sleep. Let’s look at quantity first. There are many reasons your child might not be getting enough sleep. They include childhood fears, sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome, and environmental situations, such as noise or poor schedules that don’t provide for enough sleep. The recommended amount of sleep is different for each age:
- Newborns: 12-16 hours in total in short sleeping periods.
- Infants, toddlers and preschoolers: 11-14 hours, including naps.
- Kindergarteners to 8th graders: 9-10 hours a night.
- 9-12th graders: 9.25 hours a night.
Some sleep disorders fragment a child’s sleep. That means the child appears to get enough sleep time, but the sleep is poor quality and won’t be restorative for the day ahead. These disorders include obstructive sleep apnea and periodic limb movement disorder.
How can you help your child sleep?
Try these steps:
- Monitor the hours your child sleeps – not the hours in bed.
- Provide a consistent, soothing bedtime routine, including a “wind down” time.
- Have your child avoid stimulating activities before sleep such as video games, texting, TV, or aggressive exercise.
- Caffeine is a stimulant. Limit soft drinks and chocolate in your child’s diet (and coffee, too, for teens).
- Do not provide a TV or computer in your child’s room. If your teen has sleep issues, insist that the laptop, cell phone, iPad or other electronic devices be used somewhere besides the bedroom. I know that’s not a fun proposition, but your teen will feel better after sleeping well.
If that’s not enough
If your child is unable to sleep an adequate amount night after night, is regularly very groggy in the morning after sufficient sleep, or is difficult to wake up, it may be worth further investigation with your child’s health care provider or a sleep specialist.
Most children and teens with sleep disorders aren’t obviously sleepy during the day but may be hyperactive, inattentive, or have difficulty with focus or memory. Sleep-deprived kids may also show mood swings and aggression. You may discover that your child’s problem behavior can be changed with better sleep.
Dr. Jeannine Gingras is founder of Gingras Sleep Medicine in Charlotte and Concord. A nationally recognized expert in sleep disorders who practices sleep medicine exclusively, she is double board-certified in sleep medicine and is also board-certified in pediatrics and in neonatal-perinatal medicine. Gingras has more than 20 years of experience in children’s sleep problems and has also evaluated hundreds of preterm and term infants for sleep apnea and SIDs monitoring. Learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org or gingrassleepmedicine.com.
To help create a soothing bedtime routine as suggested by Dr Gingras try using our Good Night Sleep Tight Chart available from our website at www.VictoriaChartCompany.com. It provides a step by step routine with tips and guidelines to help you give your child a healthy nights sleep and for you an evening to unwind. Use coupon code VCHART15 to save 15% off your order at checkout.
Source: Dr. Jeannine Gingras founder of Gingras Sleep Medicine in Charlotte and Concord. A nationally recognized expert in sleep disorders who practices sleep medicine exclusively, she is double board-certified in sleep medicine and is also board-certified in pediatrics and in neonatal-perinatal medicine.
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