Without enough sleep, children can suffer at school and at home. They may struggle with alertness, learning, and memory. School age children may struggle with sleep problems including nighttime anxiety, sleepwalking, snoring, sleep apnea and nightmares.
Parents can help children get better sleep by establishing and maintaining healthy sleep habits.
You can promote healthy sleep habits with these tips:
1. Set a regular sleep schedule.
Children need a consistent sleep schedule, as it will help them get to sleep on time, cut down on bedtime resistance, and get more restful sleep. Be consistent with sleep and wake times, even on the weekends or holidays.
2. Create a bedtime routine.
Doing the same few things before bed each night can help children understand that it's bedtime and time to settle down for sleep. Your routine can be simple, as long as you do the same thing each night. For example, brushing teeth, using the bathroom, and reading a book before lights out.
3. Offer a healthy sleeping environment.
Make sure your child's bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Their mattress and bedding should be appropriate for their needs, comfortable, and inviting.
4. Limit distractions and sleep killers.
Scary TV, caffeine, heavy meals, cell phones, and screen time can interfere with good sleep. Avoid excess caffeine consumption, even from sodas and chocolate, and avoid caffeine consumption later than the afternoon. Don't allow children to watch scary TV at night, and stop all screens including cell phones at least an hour before bed. Avoid heavy meals before bed, but make sure you're offering a small snack before bedtime to avoid going to bed hungry.
5. Make sure your child has enough time to sleep.
Your family's schedule may be putting pressure on sleep time. If your children are often out late at activities or struggle to wake up early for meets a few times a week, your schedule may be sabotaging the sleep they need to be healthy. Identify trouble spots in your family's routine to consider how you can make a more sleep-friendly schedule.
6. Set a good example.
Children often learn best by example, so if you're not practicing good sleep habits, they may be picking up on it. Get a good night's sleep every night so children can follow your example, and so you'll be well prepared to support them each day.
7. Get help for sleep disorders.
Children can suffer from serious sleep disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea. These disorders can be treated, even in children. Talk to your pediatrician if you're concerned about your child's sleep, especially if they show signs of a sleep disorder such as snoring, sleep problems that interfere with normal daytime functioning, and trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.