Kids Are Not Sleeping Well
Sleep deprivation is rapidly becoming a new epidemic.
A recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that sleep problems now affect 25 to 50 percent of children and 40 percent of adolescents. The study also revealed that insufficient sleep negatively impacts five childhood flourishing markers: curiosity in learning new things, doing all required homework, caring about doing well in school, finishing tasks, and staying calm and in control when faced with a challenge.
Other research is showing sleep deprivation affects alertness and attention, cognitive performance, mood, resiliency, vocabulary acquisition, and learning and memory.
“Sleep is crucial for pretty much everything. It should be considered as vital as exercise and diet. Schools and parents should be looking to support and encourage healthy sleep habits in children.”
—Lisa Henderson, Department of Psychology, University of York, U.K.
How Much Sleep Is Necessary?
In general, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
· Infants under 1 year: 12-16 hours
· Children 1-2 years old: 11-14 hours
· Children 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours
· Children 6-12 years old: 9-12 hours
· Teenagers 13-18 years old: 8-10 hours
Establishing A Healthy Bedtime Routine
Contrary to what many parents believe, kids like to know when things are going to happen. Predictability makes them feel safe and protected. Getting your children to sleep well is simply a matter of setting a routine and sticking to it as much as possible. Chaos is not a winning parenting strategy.
1. “Wind down” the household
The best time to put your child to bed is when they’re sleepy, not when they’re already asleep. This helps them learn how to fall asleep on their own. The routine should ideally start at the same time every night. As soon as the sun goes down, start to “wind down” the household:
· Dim the lights.
· Stop usage of electronics an hour before bed.
· Limit caffeine intake.
· Have your children take a warm bath.
· Do a quiet family activity, like reading.
· If your children wake up, get them back to bed with as little disruption as possible.
· Set a wake-up time for when children are allowed to leave the bedroom.
2. A Sleep-Inducing Bedroom
· Room Temperature: The body and brain both cool down in preparation for sleep, and this can be disrupted by a stuffy bedroom. To avoid this, try to keep the thermostat around 65 degrees.
· Noise Level: Research suggests even mild sound disturbances can affect the quality of slumber, even if the sleeper never awakens. Consider noise-blocking curtains to cut down on street noise. You can also use a fan or white noise machine to drown out unpredictable or distracting sounds in your children’s bedrooms.
· Light Level: Keep your children’s bedrooms as dark as possible. This promotes healthy levels of melatonin and supports your children’s natural biological clock. If your children are afraid of the dark, a small nightlight is okay.
· Soothing Smells: Calming scents have mild sedative effects. You might try using essential oils, a room diffuser, or a dried potpourri sachet to provide a soothing, sleep-inducing smell.
The negative effects of sleep deprivation in children are clear and well-established, but so is the minimum number of hours of sleep they need. It is up to us as parents to establish healthy routines early on to help our children flourish.
Ready to learn more? Sign up for an Active Parenting course through Olive Crest or learn how you can host a course at your site. You can also reach us by phone at (714) 543-5437 ext. 9065.
Parenting Education is a program of Olive Crest. Funded by: OC Health Care Agency (HCA), Mental Health and Recovery Services, Office of Suicide Prevention, Mental Health Services Act/Prop. 63.