Sleep Hygiene in Children: The dos and don’ts in giving your child a sound sleep!

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Sleep Hygiene in Children: The dos and don’ts in giving your child a sound sleep!

Kids love to sleep and they should till their heart’s are content! However, have you given a thought about your child’s sleep hygiene? Many are even surprised to hear that such a term exists! Sleep hygiene is the best practice that should be followed in order to be healthy. Sleep hygiene allows the body to repair during sleep and the brain to form new neural pathways.

The importance of sleep for kids

Kids are very active when they are awake and are constantly burning energy. The human body gets the energy back from food, but it needs rest to repair itself. A good night’s sleep is all the body needs to rejuvenate for the next 16 hours or so.

The sleep requirement of children varies with age:

Infants under 1 year of age: 12 -16 hours

1-2 years of age: 11-15 hours

3-5 years of age: 10-13 hours

6-12 years of age: 9-12 hours

13-18 years of age: 8-10 hours

As the body enters growth stages, sleep is required. Children’s bodies are under constant growth. Sleep affects the body in two ways: Mentally and Physically. 

As we discussed, sleep helps your body to repair itself. The torn muscles will be repaired and the child’s body will start to grow thanks to the hormones that are produced while they are asleep. The nerves begin to relax and lower stress levels are reached.

The interesting thing is that even when our muscles relax, the brain works like we are awake. We do not understand the brain activity during sleep to its full extent but experts believe that during sleep the brain reorganizes the things that it learned when the body was awake.

In the case of children, they take in vast amounts of information every single day. So it is essential that they get enough sleep time to help their psyche keep up. Lack of sleep creates visible changes in the child’s behavior. They become easily irritable, have a lower attention span, increased forgetfulness, etc.

Sleep hygiene: The best practices to help your child sleep better 

Sleep hygiene is very important because it promotes sound sleep in children. There are many boxes to check off when it comes to sleep hygiene, but it is definitely worth it!

1-    Avoid caffeine at bedtime

Eliminate the practice of giving your child caffeinated drinks at night. This includes tea, coffee, energy drinks, etc. Caffeine is a chemical that stimulates your brain and prevents the effects of adenosine to induce sleep. In addition to preventing drowsiness, caffeine promotes central nervous system stimulation, causing heightened states of alertness. When you are giving caffeine drinks to your child, you are preventing their brains from inducing sleep.

Dim the lights when nearing bedtime. Our body has an internal system that induces sleep when it’s dark and keeps us active when it is daytime. However, due to the artificial lights that we have, it is harder for the body to recognize the patterns, especially in children. Bright light suppresses the production of melatonin in the body, creating sleeplessness. The best practice is to dim the lights 60 to 90 minutes before bedtime. This helps the body to know it’s time to sleep and it automatically induces sleep.

2-    Prevent or minimize in between naps

In between naps makes kids less likely to sleep at night. Also, an abrupt sleeping pattern is not good for the circadian rhythm. This doesn’t mean that you should prevent them from taking a nap when they are super tired. In between naps can become a habit if you are not careful, and children can develop habits fast. Try to develop a proper sleep pattern in them so it becomes natural to sleep during bedtime without any fuss.

3-    Engage in quiet activities before bedtime

Quality time should be spent between kids and their parents before bedtime. Make sure that you are participating in quiet activities as opposed to something that would require your kids to engage in physical stress. Reading a book is a great bedtime activity, exercise isn’t!

4-    No screens no computers

Kids using smartphones or tablets at night time should strongly be discouraged. Bright lights from screens cause the brain to minimize the production of melatonin.

Set up a regular bedtime habit. Developing a habit has numerous advantages. When your kid starts sleeping at a specific time each day, it becomes a habit. In a few days' time, your child will be sleeping on their own during that time without your help. As a parent, you are now helping them to create a routine in their life. This is helpful not just in their childhood but will have positive effects years into their adulthood.

5-    Identify and understand sleep problems

Even when you are doing things right, you might notice your child has a very abrupt sleep pattern and this is starting to affect their daily life. In such cases, you should seek professional advice on the same. Sleep hygiene is not just about creating a perfect environment for sleep, but also rectifying problems that prevent sleeplessness. 

Your child has problems when it comes to sleep?  

As a parent, you may have concerns about your child’s sleep hygiene. Bee Well El Paso Pediatrics, is a call or text away! Let us, help guide you with a solution to your child’s sleep hygiene needs. Bee Well! Sleep Well!

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