Your child’s mental and physical health depends on quality sleep. However, if you’re struggling to get your child to sleep, you’re not the only one. About 25 to 50 percent of children and 40 percent of adolescents are affected by sleep disorders, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics1.
Getting to know your child’s sleep preferences is the first step in improving their quality of sleep.2 Your child’s health and well-being can be improved by ensuring that he or she has adequate sleep and following age-appropriate routines, as well as paying special attention to any signs of sleep disturbances.
Why Is Sleep Important For Children?
The importance of sleep cannot be overstated in the development of a child’s brain. Studies have shown that sleep affects alertness and attention, cognitive performance, mood, resilience, vocabulary acquisition, and learning and memory in addition to directly affecting happiness. Getting enough sleep is critical for a child’s development, especially in the first few years. Napping appears to be essential for the development of memory, executive function, and motor skills in toddlers.
What Happens When Children Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
A sleep-deprived youngster might exhibit symptoms that resemble ADHD, such as being cranky and hyperactive, as any parent knows all too well. Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on your child’s ability to focus, which can have a negative impact on their academic achievement. Sleep deprivation, no matter how slight, can have a significant impact on your child’s day-to-day functioning.
Twenty-five percent of children under the age of five, according to the AAP, do not receive enough sleep. Poor sleep in early childhood has been associated to allergy rhinitis, immune system issues, and even anxiety and depression. This is cause for concern. Obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure may all be linked to insufficient sleep in childhood, according to new research
Academic performance and mental health may suffer as a result of insufficient sleep in adolescents. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and the American Medical Association, chronic sleep deprivation in teenagers is a public health issue. It can lead to substance misuse and mental health issues, as well as more urgent issues like vehicle accidents and sports injuries.
Tips on How To Make Sure Your Child Gets a Full Night’s Sleep
Research shows that a consistent bedtime routine is useful for making sure your child gets adequate sleep, regardless of whether they’re a 2-year-old toddler or a rebellious teenager. It’s a good idea to perform the same things every day so that your youngster can anticipate what to expect.
An example of a common nighttime routine is:
- Turning off laptops, televisions, video games, and other sources of bright light
- brushing teeth and putting on pj’s
- Sleepy time activities include reading a light book, singing lullabies, or simply taking a bath.
- Choosing a stuffed animal or a comfort blanket for a child’s bedtime routine
Instead of putting your child to bed when they’re already asleep, wait till they’re sleepy before you put them to bed. As they get older, they will be able to sleep on their own. It’s best to walk pre-schoolers back to their beds if they wake up throughout the night. Co-sleeping with a newborn increases the danger of sudden infant death syndrome, thus it’s better not to let your child to sleep in your bed.
Sleep Hygiene Tips for Kids
Sleep is also affected by one’s daytime lifestyle. Simple guidelines for good sleep hygiene will help your children have a good night’s sleep.
- Planned rest and play breaks are necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- establishing a regular time for going to bed
- Even during the day, the bedroom, and particularly the mattress, should be a screen-free zone.
- Providing a nutritious meal plan
- Lowering the thermostat a tenth of a degree
- A nightlight if they’re afraid of the dark, or dark drapes to keep out light.
- Using a white noise machine to mute outside noises in the bedroom
- Avoiding caffeinated beverages, heavy meals, and sweets in the hours leading up to bedtime will help you sleep better at night.
- how to get the best night’s rest
Don’t fall into the trap of over-exerting your child in order to get them to sleep better at night. Often, this will cause them to be overtired and make it more difficult to go asleep. Learn to identify the special level of hyperactivity that indicates that your child is overtired, so you can put them to bed before things get out of hand.
A bedtime regimen can be difficult to stick to at times. Bedtime may necessitate more planning for families with two parents or for siblings who share a room. A list of additional sleep tactics is available from the National Sleep Foundation if you’re having difficulty getting your children to sleep.
Sleep tips for babies: Very newborn kids rarely sleep through the night due to their lack of a circadian rhythm, but that’s fine29. Speak softly and gently, but don’t pick them up if they don’t go asleep on their own. If they cry on and on, it’s possible they’re hungry or their diaper needs to be altered. Use only a nightlight if possible, and exit the room gently after resolving the issue.
Sleep tips for toddlers: Two daily naps help young toddlers maintain a regular sleep schedule. Sleep issues for toddlers are exacerbated by their dread of missing out and separation anxiety, which leads to stalling tactics and stubbornness when it is time to go to bed. Giving your child a say in what they dress and what they read can help alleviate some of their angst. To avoid power clashes, try to be patient, firm, and loving at the same time.
Sleep tips for school kids: There is a lot going on in the lives of school-aged children that can make it difficult for them to obtain adequate sleep. Whenever possible, try to stick to a regular routine and allow yourself some time to relax before going to sleep. Have them do their homework or other activities in another room if you can to reinforce the connection between the bedroom and sleep.
Sleep tips for teenagers: Teenagers’ circadian rhythms30 are predisposed to be later, which can cause issues with school start times. In order to assist your adolescent, you should be aware of the increased demands on their time and work together to establish a healthy sleep routine that fits for both of your schedules. One of the finest things you can do to assist your teen create a good sleep schedule is to model it yourself.
Getting up in the morning is crucial. Allowing your children to sleep in on the weekends may seem like a good idea, but this can cause problems with their sleep schedules throughout the week. If you’ve noticed that extracurricular activities are interfering with your child’s sleep, you may want to scale back on their participation in these activities.
If your child continues to be tired or has difficulty falling or staying asleep at night, it may be time to contact a doctor to see if they have a sleep disorder. To keep track of your child’s attention span, you might ask their instructor to do the same. Sleep deprivation can cause problems with concentration, hyperactivity, and learning.
Sleep Problems in Children
Events that may seem insignificant to us, such as new siblings, teething, illness, a new caregiver, or a shift in schedule, can all have a negative impact on your child’s ability to sleep, even if they’re minor.
Sleep difficulties affect as many as half of all children at some point, on top of the more typical ailments. The relationship between sleep difficulties and mental and physical health issues is complex, and it can be difficult to break the cycle. Sleep problems may also be difficult to diagnose since they are not obvious to the sleeper, or they may resemble other conditions such as epilepsy.
Restless leg syndrome and snoring are two more prevalent sleep issues in youngsters. Night terrors and nightmares are also common.
Night Terrors and Nightmares
Young children, who have a difficult time discriminating between what is real and what is not, often find nightmares terrifying. Nightmares frequently cause children to awaken from their deep slumber, which is when REM sleep occurs. In the event that this occurs, calmly lull them back to sleep with comfort.
Approximately one-third of children suffer from night terrors, also known as sleep terrors, during non-REM sleep in the early hours of the morning. It is possible for your child to scream and bolt upright during a night terror but they are unlikely to remember the occurrence when they awaken and go back to sleep the following day. Try to keep them in bed if at all feasible, and make sure they are safe at all times. Your pediatrician should be notified if your child suffers from frequent night terrors or if they cause excessive daytime sleepiness, so you should not wake them up or worry about it if they happen once in a while.
Sleep Talking and Sleepwalking
The parasomnia of “sleep talking” is fairly prevalent, and it involves vocalizations in the course of sleep. Because sleep talking seems to be more common during light sleep, good sleep hygiene may be useful in reducing the number of times it occurs. When done alone, sleep talking isn’t a problem, but it can irritate those sharing the space with you. Other sleep disorders such as nightmares and sleepwalking may be linked to this condition in some cases.
The majority of sleepwalking events occur in preteens, with 1 in 3 youngsters experiencing it before the age of 13. Sleepwalkers, like sleep talkers, are completely unaware of their surroundings and often have no memory of what they did during the time they were asleep. A person’s behaviors while sleepwalking, in addition to causing daytime tiredness, can have catastrophic ramifications. Safety-proof their room and put an alarm in their room if your youngster sleepwalks. A half-hour wake-up before a sleepwalking episode has proven to be effective.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
The occasional snore of a toddler is very normal, just as it is in an adult. Swollen tonsils or adenoids, allergies, obesity, secondhand smoke, or other conditions can all contribute to a child’s snoring. Snoring and gasping during sleep are symptoms of sleep apnea, so keep an eye out for either of these.
Children with sleep apnea have breathing problems that cause them to wake up frequently during the night, oftentimes without even realizing it. Sleep deprivation can cause a wide range of symptoms in children, including daytime tiredness, trouble concentrating, and hyperactivity. There are serious health consequences for your child’s health and disruptions for other members of the family when you snore or suffer from sleep apnea. Consult your child’s pediatrician for advice on managing symptoms.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome in children36, which is characterized by an insatiable desire to move the legs, can be difficult to recognize. Your child’s fidgeting or discomfort may lead you to believe he or she is experiencing growing pains. Proper sleep hygiene and stretching before bed are two treatments for children with nocturnal restless leg syndrome. In adults, iron supplements have been found to be beneficial; however, further research is needed to determine whether or not they are safe and effective for children.
Keep a sleep journal and consult your pediatrician if you suspect your child has one of these sleep problems. In many of these cases, establishing appropriate sleep hygiene habits and minimizing sleep-related obstacles is the first line of defense.
Healthy Sleep Habits – Tips from the AAP
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which endorses the AASM recommendations, parents should work to instill appropriate sleep patterns in their children as early as possible.
- Make sufficient sleep a family priority. Recognize the significance of a healthy night’s sleep for your family’s well-being and that of your children. Consider yourself a parent’s example to your child; lead by example. No matter how hard you try, you’re not conveying the correct message to your teen when you stay up all night to help him or her edit a paper. Sleeping well is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle, just like eating well and exercising regularly, so it’s important to make it a priority for yourself.
- Keep to a regular daily routine. Maintaining a consistent schedule for your child’s waking hours, meals, naps, and playtime will promote a positive mood in your child and make sleep less stressful for both of you. Early establishment of a nighttime ritual, such as brushing teeth, reading a book, and retiring to bed, benefits young children. Keep your child’s sleep habits portable so that you can help him or her get to sleep wherever you are.
- Be active during the day. Don’t forget about the importance of physical movement and fresh air for your children’s health. For further information, check see Energy Out: Daily Physical Activity Recommendations..
- Monitor screen time. Children’s bedrooms should be free of all displays, including televisions, computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. Turn off all screens at least 60 minutes/1 hour before bedtime to avoid disrupting your sleep. Set limits on media use before night with a family media use plan.
- Create a sleep-supportive and safe bedroom and home environment. Prior to going to bed, turn down the lights and adjust the thermostat. Don’t cram too many toys into your child’s bed. Make sure your child’s bed is just that: a place to sleep. Having a beloved toy or a security blanket on hand can help alleviate the stress of being apart from a loved one. For additional information about safe places to sleep for infants under the age of one year, see Suitable Sleeping Sites.
- Realize that teens require more sleep, Certainly not any lesser. At the beginning of puberty, sleep-wake cycles vary by up to two hours. Most high schools are also making kids arrive at school an increasing amount earlier. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has long argued for later start times for middle and high schools. It is critical that parents and local school boards work together to promote high school start times that allow students to receive the healthy sleep they require. they require. If you’d like to learn more, consult the American Academy of Pediatrics’ position statement on school start times for adolescents.
- Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle of juice, milk, or formula. It’s fine to drink water. Baby bottle teeth decay can be caused by anything other than pure water in the bottle. After feeding or nursing your infant, put him or her to bed.
- Don’t start giving solids before about 6 months of age.Your baby’s sleep will not improve if you begin feeding him solids earlier than he is ready. It is possible that if you give your baby solids before their digestive system is able to process them, he or she will be less likely to sleep well.
- Avoid overscheduling. Evening activities such as sports events, lessons, appointments, and so on might make it difficult for youngsters to obtain a decent night’s sleep. Spend some quality time with your family and let them unwind.
- Learn to recognize sleep problems. Sleep apnea, snoring, overnight awakenings, stalling and fighting going to bed, and loud or heavy breathing while sleeping are among the most prevalent sleep disorders in children.
- Talk to your child’s teacher or child care provider in regards to how awake your youngster is during the day. Daytime sleepiness can be a symptom of untreated sleep disorders. Lack of sleep or sleep of poor quality might impair a student’s ability to concentrate or “zone out” while in school. Make it clear to your child’s teacher that you want to be kept updated on any complaints of your child falling asleep in class or having other problems with his or her learning.
- Talk to your child’s pediatrician about sleep. Consult your child’s pediatrician about sleep issues if you’re concerned, as the majority of sleep disorders are treatable. It is possible that he or she will ask you to keep a log of your child’s sleep patterns or provide additional advice on how to improve their sleep habits.