The kids are in school, and they're becoming a bit grouchy, a bit baggy-eyed, and a bit sleep-deprived. So what's the next step? How do we get our kids back on track where sleep is concerned?
Children's sleep needs vary, but school-age children should be getting between 10 and 11 hours sleep.
- Start getting them to bed a little earlier every night, and, of course, up a little earlier in the morning. Children should be up early enough to have ample time to wake up, dress and eat a healthy breakfast.
- Explain to your children how important sleep is, and how much better they'll do, not only scholastically, but also in other things, including athletics.
- Teach them about sleep hygiene, and help them practice it.
- Have a cut-off time for TV, video games, computers, etc., and if they have any of these entertainment sources in the bedroom, make sure they understand that the cut-off time applies there as well.
- Bedtime snacks should consist of the old standby - milk and cookies. Avoid anything containing caffeine, including caffeinated drinks and chocolate.
- Have a quiet time just before bed to allow children to unwind from their daily activities.
- Set up a sleep ritual - perhaps bath, reading, snack - that is done exactly the same way every night.
- If you notice any sleep problems, discuss them with your doctor. These might include bruxism (teeth grinding,) enuresis (bed wetting,) nocturnal asthma and even nightmares.
- Children can suffer from sleep apnea, insomnia and other sleep disorders common to adults. If any of these problems are affecting your child's sleep, the sooner treatment starts the better.
- Another thing that can disturb a child's sleep is stress. Make sure there is nothing causing your child undue worry. This could include marital or financial problems in the home, worry about the illness of a family member or other family related problems. But it could also come from outside the home, things like peer pressure or bullying.
Sleep is so very important for everyone, but it is especially important during these formative years. Good habits can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, so can bad habits.
Published On: March 16, 2010