Helping Your Child Achieve a Healthy Sleep Schedule
Is your child having a difficult time establishing a routine sleeping schedule? Different times of the year may be particularly busy in your household. Typically, many families struggle most during the transition from a carefree summer into a brand new school year.
Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can help your child get back on track with their sleep, no matter what the season. By laying down a few simple rules and, most importantly, by sticking to them, it will be a much easier journey for both you and your kids to maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
The Full Effect
According to the National Sleep Foundation pre-school children should get 10-13 hours of sleep, whereas elementary children up to age 13 require 9-11 hours of sleep. As for teens, they need 8-10 hours of restful sleep.
It may come as a surprise, but sleep has a huge effect on your children and their development. An occasional late night will not harm them, but consecutive shortages of sleep can have a very negative impact upon their mood, productivity, and academic performance.
Consistency is Key to Managing Sleep Schedules
All kids need a structure in their lives. They may complain about it, but as a parent, it’s our job to provide that consistency and support, especially when it comes to sleep schedules.
- Younger children who find it hard to sleep when the sun is still out may need dark shades to block the light. Be sure they get enough physical activity during the day to help them fall asleep, and keep their bedroom as cool as possible.
- Teens may tend to “oversleep” on weekends when they don’t have any early morning commitments, but there can be a limit. Some extra sleep won’t hurt them, but sleeping the day away isn’t healthy either. Try to get them up and moving by a reasonable time (incentives may not be a bad idea to get them motivated) like 10 AM.
- Don’t allow kids to indulge in sweet snacks, sugary drinks or caffeine right before bedtime.
- Try to limit their screen time by making sure to step away from the cell phones, TV, and video games at least one hour before they should be ready for sleep.
- Nap times for younger children should also remain consistent to reinforce daily sleep habits.
- Stray away from overscheduling your child during the day. Between school, homework, family time, sports, and other activities, it can be hard for kids to keep it all going. It is advised to keep them active in order to make sure that they are tired enough for sleep each night, but overdoing it on the extracurriculars may actually be making things worse.
- Some sleeping disorders, like insomnia, can prevent children from getting enough sleep, no matter how hard you are trying to help them. It is always good to have an idea of how your child is acting during the day at school, and if necessary, it may be time to seek professional assistance in order to find a solution to your child’s sleep issues.