What are some of the good sleep habits for kids? Why are healthy sleep habits for children important?
“A good sleep is an investment in the energy you need to be effective tomorrow.” – a quote I read somewhere which is so true. Every child fights naps when they’re young, and every adult wishes they could nap. Babies and children need significantly more sleep than adults to support their mental and physical development.
One of the common concerns of most parents is how to get them to bed on time every night. Most of us have had or still deal with the difficulty of putting a child to bed at some point. Some are lucky enough to have maintained a regime while some might still be trying hard to get that habit in the little ones. I would share my knowledge and experience here on good sleep habits for kids. Before I could get onto the topic let me tell you, every child and every household practice is different, so avoid comparing a child’s sleep habit to the other child.
Why is proper sleep important for children?
Today we lead such a busy and mechanical life, our modern lifestyles have impacted our once upon a time healthy lifestyles. Parents being busy with work, after school activities for kids, heavy traffic making it difficult to reach home on time thus spending less or no time with family and the list go on. Evenings are usually busy, hence creating a calm and relaxed environment for bedtime becomes nearly impossible.
A good night’s sleep is a part of healthy habits for kids. When a child is well-rested, he or she wakes up with a relaxing and fresh face. Thus making the mind and body energized to start a new day. Also, their growth and development will be on the right track. They will be able to focus well on their activities and learning because they will be alert. They will also have a better temperament as their mind is well in control compared to a sleep-deprived child. Lack of sleep is also one of the main reasons for obesity in children.
It takes discipline and commitment to make sleep a high priority. As I always say communication is the key to all. Help kids understand how their body clock works, make them understand the importance of good sleep, assisting them to work out their optimal bedtime, and putting lifestyle habits in place. It is very important for kids to get sufficient sleep after their busy activities of the day.
Good Sleep Habits for Kids | 10 Tips to Help Your Child Get a Good Night’s Sleep
We would discuss a few tips to get kids to sleep on time and make it a regular habit.
#1. Know the required sleep
The Raising Children’s Network recommends between 11-13 hours sleep per night for young children, 10-11 hours for primary school children, and 8-10 hours for secondary school-aged kids.
Having said, every kid is different so it’s ok if they sleep a little more or else.
#2. Lifestyle habits
- Ensure kids have sufficient physical activities every day like playing with friends, walk time, cycling, and so on.
- All the electronic devices should be turned off at least 90 minutes before bedtime.
- An early and healthy dinner is ideal. Avoid junk food especially in the evenings.
- Strictly no homework or play on the bed. The brain relates activity to the location thus making it difficult to come out of the study mood mentally when the lights are off.
- Avoid having tea/coffee at the night, instead, warm milk would be better.
#3. Turn off the electronics
Research has proven that the blue light emitted from screens can wake up the brain and make it harder to fall asleep which might end up in less sleep, poorer sleep quality, more fatigue in the morning, and nutrition problems in children. Especially with the small screens such as phones or tablets that are held closer to the face one has to be more careful. Practice to turn them off an hour before sleep. Try to keep your phones for charge outside the bedroom preferably or far away from the bed.
#4. Follow a bedtime routine
It is always ideal to unwind or release the stress by following a good routine before going off to sleep. Try to start the routine half an hour before you hit the bed. A few things that I follow with Rey:
- Brushing teeth is good to start with
- There is nothing relaxing than a warm bath
- A gentle massage applying cream on my little one’s body before making him wear his pajamas is the next thing I do
- A bedtime story is a must in our case. This truly is very soothing for kids as they sleep with the imagination of that story. So pick a good pleasing bedtime story.
- We also have a quick chat on how our day went, good and wrong things done all through the day, thanking God for the beautiful day, and discussing the following day’s activities.
- Never to miss is a cuddle and a goodnight kiss to your precious one wishing him or her sweetest dreams.
Sticking to a bedtime routine helps your child to know what to expect and can easily move through every routine efficiently each night.
#5. An ideal sleep environment
Create an ideal sleep environment. It should give a comfortable and cozy feel.
- Keep their room dark or have a dim light/night light.
- I keep soothing music as Rey and I both love it. There are some kids who prefer absolute silence. For us, both works so all depends on the mood.☺
- Ensure no devices are around and that they are put off in silent mode.
- Make the bed super comfy and neat for kids to feel really good while sleeping.
- Make sure that the temperature is seasonally appropriate for your kids’ rooms.
#6. Keep up the routines on weekends or holidays
Try not to disturb the bedtime routine for your little ones on holidays. A little leeway is okay like being awake an hour more than usual or so. Don’t extend too much to disturb the regular cycle. Kids do much better when they stay the same in their routine.
#7. Avoid late afternoon naps
A nap is great to relax and refresh our little ones. But if they nap in the evening or late afternoon, it would be difficult to make kids sleep on time in the night. Let kids get tired with fun activities or their routine during the day and take a short nap in the early afternoon. Make sure they don’t sleep beyond 4 pm. Don’t rely on naps for older kids which means they need to have an early bedtime and longer hours of sleep.
#8. Encourage good health and nutrition
Eating right and healthy is key to our effective daily activities. Eating right is very important for a good sleep.
- Eat the right proportion of food at the right time
- Morning daylight exposure is important for a good night’s sleep
- Avoid caffeine and aerated drinks especially late afternoons or evenings
- Physical activity and exercises help children to sleep longer and better, thus encourage exercising in their routine.
#9. Undisturbed Sleep
Ensure kids have undisturbed and a good quality long sleep for their effective growth and development. Make sure your child is comfortable. Clothes and blankets should not restrict movement. If your child comes out of her room after you’ve put her to bed, walk him/her back and gently yet firmly remind the child that it’s bedtime.
#10. Avoid caffeine
Caffeine is not only present in coffee but also present in many kids’ favorite products. There is nothing better than serving kids with warm milk before sleep. Dessert after dinner can be ice cream, ensure it is not chocolate-flavored. Caffeine is usually seen in soda, energy drinks, and chocolate candy—even hot cocoa. Confine caffeine to mornings if you wish to. Consuming caffeine in any form close to bedtime is like throwing a wrecking ball through a regular sleep routine. The brain needs to unwind and calm down rather than being artificially stimulated if sleep is to occur. The more caffeine consumed, the less the children sleep at night which makes for chaotic mornings, especially when your kids still have to get up after not having enough rest.
Practice a good sleep routine to imbibe healthy habits for your kids. This can avoid many behavioral problems like temper tantrums, crankiness, absent-mindedness, and inefficiency in school performances. Ensure kids get their age-appropriate sleep. Making kids sleep alone or with parents are individual choices but I personally love to hug my little Rey and sleep. Like the famous quote,’ Let me love you a little more before you are no more little’, I would like to be a part of his schedule as long as I can ☺
Their proper growth and development depend on a consistent bedtime, so make sure to maintain the same.