Sleep is an absolute necessity for children. Of course, everyone needs sleep to function, but it plays an even more integral role for kids. For those children who suffer from sleep deprivation, the consequences can lead to lifelong health problems. Not only does the lack of sleep contribute to obesity in children, but it also can lead to behavioral issues that can persist for years. The use of electronic devices, such as cell phones and tablets, have significant implications for getting a good night’s sleep. The following are several ways to ensure that children are getting enough sleep.
It’s critical to make sleep a priority for children. Just as there’s an allotted time for homework, school, sports, and meals, schedule time for sleep as well. This can be a lot more difficult for older children. It may require some tough conversations regarding cutting back on certain activities to ensure they are getting the necessary amount of sleep. Part of making sleep a priority is sticking to a set bedtime, even on weekends. Being consistent will help your child’s body to establish a natural rhythm.
Along with making sleep a priority, limiting caffeine intake, and ensuring your child is physically active throughout the day can also help children fall asleep more easily.
If the day has been busy and full of vigorous activity, it can be hard to jump from that to going straight to sleep. That is why starting a bedtime routine early can help ensure the child gets a good night’s sleep. If the child’s bedtime is around 9:00 PM, they should begin winding down between 8 to 8:30 PM. Bedtime routines can include relaxing activities such as a warm bath, reading a bedtime story, or just spending some quality time together. Dimming the lights and listening to soft instrumental music can also encourage sleep. Having an established bedtime routine will better enable them to fall asleep by the 9 PM bedtime and get the right amount of sleep necessary to function.
When getting ready for bed, another critical step can be making sure that all screens are turned off. The blue light emitted from these devices causes the brain to wake up and make it nearly impossible to sleep. This is especially the case with small screen devices such as tablets and phones held closer to the face. Shut down all the devices approximately an hour before bedtime when starting the bedtime routine. Ideally, phones should remain outside of the child’s bedroom at night or be kept in do not disturb mode.
If your child seems to be having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when following proper sleep hygiene, it’s important to discuss this with your pediatrician.
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