I am thrilled to be have my advice featured in “A Better Bedtime” in the Spring edition of Healthy Living. Sleep is important to our children’s well being no matter their age. With all they have going on, we often lose focus on making sleep a priority for our school age kids. Here are 4 Tips to help prioritize your child’s sleep and create a better bedtime for your child.
A BETTER BEDTIME
CREATING A SLEEP ROUTINE FOR KIDS
By Melissa Erickson
“The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and
not to,” said F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not getting enough sleep won’t just leave you groggy the next day. Sleep is a vital component of overall well-being, affecting mental, physical and emotional health — especially for children.
“Unfortunately, most kids are not getting nearly enough sleep due to the vast amount of obligations on their plates,” said pediatric sleep consultant Amy Lage, owner of Well Rested Baby. “Between homework, sports and other extra curricular activities, there are just not enough hours in the day to accomplish every- thing, so something has to give — sadly it’s usually sleep that seems the easiest to be sacrificed. “Children age 5 to 12 years still need 10 to 11 hours of sleep, and teens a minimum of nine to 10. The key is that parents understand the importance of their child’s sleep and assist them in achieving their daily needs.”
“Lack of sleep impacts a young child in many ways. Sleep is needed for good health, to maintain the proper weight and required for good school perfor- mance,” said Nancy Maxwell, executive director of Sweet Dreamzzz, a nonprofit sleep education and bedtime essentials organization serving economically disadvantaged students and their families. “Lack of sleep is associated with childhood obesity, attention deficit disorder, diabetes, asthma severity and heart disease.”
The first step toward a child’s good night’s rest: Create a routine. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is a prelude to a great night’s sleep, which is criti- cal for young bodies and brains. “Healthy sleeping practices are not only important to your child’s health now, but the habits they form as a child will follow them their entire life. Prioritize your child’s sleep and you will be making a lasting impact on their future,” Lage said. Creating a sleep routine is easier than parents think, Lage said. Simply have these things in place and great sleep will ensue:
1. Ensure their bedtime is consistent and early enough for them to get in all of their needed zzz’s before their regular wake-up time, Lage said.
2. Have a pre-bedtime routine in place so that your child can wind down and get into bed in a calm and worry-free state, Lage said. Relax before bed with a bath, a book, draw- ing or coloring, and be sure to encourage washing up from the day and brushing their teeth, Maxwell said: “If your child is hungry, a healthy snack is appropriate.”
3. Your child’s room should be a calm, stimulation-free environment for bedtime. “It should be cool, dark and quiet. A room that is too hot can be disruptive; research suggests that a hot sleeping environment leads to more wake time and lighter sleep at night with increased night awakenings,” said Lage, who suggests a temperature of between 65 and 72 degrees for sleep times. “Light is a stimulant to a child’s brain, so encouraging lights out is very important,” Maxwell said. Invest in blackout curtains or, for an inexpensive quick fix, Redi Shade paper blackout blinds. To ensure your child’s sleep is not disrupted by ambient noise, consider a fan or a white noise machine.
4. Turn off all electronics, including phones and televisions, at least an hour before bed, Maxwell said. Lage concurs: “Not only is watching TV or playing games on a tablet or computer stimulating, but their use can also suppress your body’s release of melatonin. Your child’s room should also be free of any electronic devices, as studies have found that children that have them in their rooms sleep less.”
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