Back-to-school: healthy sleep for kids
As children prepare to go back to school this year, it will mean readjusting to regular routines. It’s important for kids to get enough sleep to stay healthy and to perform well in class. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the amount of sleep needed varies by a child’s age. They recommend the following:
- 4-12 months: 14-17 hours
- 1-2 years: 12-14 hours
- 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
- 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
- 14-17 years: 8-10 hours
- 18+ years: 7+ hours
Unfortunately, due to various factors, many children don’t get as much sleep as they should. A study by The Better Sleep Council showed that many teenagers sacrifice sleep to get all of their homework done and then have trouble concentrating and understanding new information the following day. The study revealed that an alarming 12% of teens get four hours sleep or less on a regular school night.
Researchers say it only takes three nights of insufficient sleep to make an adult or child feel and act as if legally intoxicated. Lack of sleep – both long and short term – can also impair memory and the ability to do simple tasks safely. In one study, children without consistent bedtimes at age 3 had lower test scores in reading, math and spatial awareness at age 7 than children with regular bedtimes. Sleep is critical for your child’s healthy development.
Thankfully, parents and guardians can do a lot to shape children’s sleep routines. “It’s never too early to teach children about the importance of sleep,” says Terry Cralle, a registered nurse and certified clinical sleep educator. “Good sleep habits will provide a lifetime of benefits.”
The Better Sleep Council suggests the following:
- Set a consistent bedtime. A regular bedtime strengthens circadian rhythms and helps ensure adequate time for sleep. “Kids will learn what to expect and bedtime will become a non-negotiable part of the day,” explains Cralle. “A regular bedtime also fosters healthy, independent sleep in children.”
- Frame going to bed in a positive light. For example, parents could say: “You get to go to bed,” instead “You have to go to bed.” Reinforce to children that sleep is good for all of us. It helps them be better learners, athletes and friends, and helps prevent them from falling ill.
- Choose non-electronic, pre-sleep activities to encourage relaxation before bed. Electronics, especially in the bedroom, interfere with sleep, compromise sleep quality and get in the way of sleep time. This is backed up by a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, which found that screen time was associated with a later sleep onset.
- Keep it clean. Just like adults, children will rest better in a sleep environment with minimal clutter. Encourage youngsters to keep their bedrooms tidy. This can also avoid night-time injuries for little ones.
- Invest in a high quality, supportive mattress for your child. Allow older children to participate in their sleep health by getting involved in their mattress selection process. Use a mattress protector to minimise allergens and keep the mattress clean.
For more news and for expert sleep advice, visit our Restonic Sleep Blog.