A good night’s sleep does not just mean rest. Sleep is essential for our body, affecting all physical and mental functioning and even our immune system. That’s why sleeping well is also crucial for kids, helping their early development and health later in life.
Studies show that children who get adequate sleep have more attention, learn faster, and generally behave better. When they do not get enough sleep, they can develop problems like attention deficit disorder and even depression.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants under one year old should sleep between 12-16 hours a day while children between 6-12 years old need an average of 9-12 hours of rest. But kids may naturally have trouble sleeping for one reason or another.
Let’s take a look at some tips to help kids return to a healthy sleep cycle.
1. Close the Distance
Some children act restless at night because of separation anxiety – especially the younger ones, who are still afraid of being alone in the room or in the dark. That’s why it is vital to be close a parent while they are falling asleep or stay by the bedside when they are having trouble staying asleep through the night.
Experts also recommend that you try to minimize dependence, so you don’t become a hostage to the situation, being forced to spend your nights at your children’s bedside. If your room is close to the children’s room, come up with little strategies or games to make sure everything is okay, and they’re safe because you are nearby. Some infants already feel better if you leave the door open or a light on.
In the case of kids who wake up in the middle of the night and go to their parents’ room to sleep with them, it is important to get them back to their own bed as soon as possible. Otherwise, this routine will repeat often.
2. Naps Aren’t Always Good
It’s natural for babies and young children to spend the day sleeping. But from 3-5 years of age, they should abandon the napping habit to have a healthier routine and ensure a good night’s sleep.
If your kids are over five years old and continue to nap several times throughout the day, you must create a sleeping routine to prevent them from being wide awake at night. Shorten your child’s naps to a maximum of 20 minutes and discourage them from sleeping after mid-afternoon.
3. Make Bedtime Luxurious
The bedtime experience can be compromised if the child uses the bed for other functions, such as watching TV, playing video games, or doing homework. Little ones need to be trained to associate their bed with sleeping time.
A good strategy to achieve this is to make bedtime a luxurious experience. Always put clean sheets on the bed with motifs and characters your children like to make them more comfortable. And adopt a pre-bedtime routine based on the following.
- A relaxing, warm bath one to two hours before bed.
- Make sure your child’s room isn’t too bright or noisy.
- Swap the lamps in bedside lamps for white, cool-colored lights.
- Dim or completely turn off the blue light on televisions, computer screens, phones, and tablets at least an hour before going to bed.
- If the situation persists, remove all screens from your children’s room at night.
4. Expend Energy
If you ensure that your kids expend all or most of their energy during the day, it will be much easier for them to sleep through the night. But that only works if kids really expend energy. That is, no video games or Internet.
Use your creativity to suggest activities that might tire them out, such as a small indoor ball game just before bedtime or games involving running and jumping. For some children, using their minds is enough to expend energy: board games or building complicated structures with Lego in the backyard can do the trick.
Healthy children should be given as much natural light as possible during the day, but remember that some may need sunglasses when spending a significant amount of time outdoors. For a touch of style and higher-quality protection, you may want to splurge on kids’ designer prescription sunglasses.
5. Cut Out Sugar
An old parenting theory claims that too much sugar makes kids hyperactive. Much research shows no link between the substance and hyperactivity, but sugar consumption indeed provides more energy to the body. Something that, especially in childhood, can increase excitement.
Just in case, decrease or cut out any sugary food from your children’s menu a certain time before bedtime. The same goes for drinks with caffeine – such as coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soft drinks, and especially energy drinks. Prevent your children from consuming these drinks in the late afternoon and evening.
Say Goodbye to Sleepless Nights
A child’s sleep problems can have many causes, from too much screen light at night to not being active during the day. The problem can also be worries and anxieties that prevent the child from relaxing at bedtime, such as a difficult test at school the next day.
By adopting these five tips, you can minimize part of the problem and help children have pleasant dreams. That way, you also guarantee yourself a good night’s sleep without the need to run to your kid’s room all the time.
But if they continue to have trouble sleeping and the problem impacts their daytime behavior or performance at school, visit a pediatrician to make sure there isn’t some more serious cause behind the lack of sleep.
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