Last Updated on June 22, 2023
We all need sleep. A lack of sleep can increase the risk of health problems, affect our moods and decrease energy levels.
If you’re a parent, you’re probably all too aware of the effects of a sleepless night. If you have children who experience sleep troubles, this can negatively impact the child’s overall health. The best thing to do is to take action immediately.
Here are some tips for sleeping peacefully so the entire family can wake up feeling rejuvenated.
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Children need more sleep than adults, and if they don’t get enough rest, the effects can soon start to take their toll. Babies need up to 16 hours, with recommended sleep times steadily decreasing to 8-10 hours for 13-18-year-olds.
It is estimated that around 25-50% of children and 40% of adolescents have sleep troubles, and these figures are even greater among children who have mental health or developmental disorders.
While the odd restless night is normal, prolonged periods of disturbed sleep can affect every member of the family. A lack of sleep increases the risk of accidents, decreases immunity, and elevates the risk of mood swings and irritability.
Things to Address to Improve Sleep Quality
To overcome sleep problems and promote better quality sleep, here are 7 key areas to address.
Firstly, diet is key to good health, and it’s wise to avoid foods that contain caffeine or sugar before bed. It is a good idea to speak with your child’s physician to learn more about the ways your child’s diet may be impacting their quality of sleep.
Children should also be encouraged to stop watching TV or using computers or tablets about 30 minutes before they go to sleep. You will also want to turn down any bright lights and/or utilize blackout curtains. I always encourage parents to create a “wind-down” routine to help children prepare for bedtime, which I will discuss more in a separate section. Basically, you want to tell the brain that it’s time for bed and signal it to relax.
I briefly mentioned a “wind-down routine” in the previous section, but let me dive in a little deeper here. The human brain operates on patterns. You can make it easier for your brain to do its job, by establishing clear patterns in your daily routine — especially when it comes to preparing for bedtime.
Here is a sample of what may be included in your child’s bedtime routine:
- Turning down the lights and turning off all devices
- Bath/Shower and changing into pajamas
- Brushing teeth
- Reading a book
- Playing lullabies or relaxation music
- Diffusing an essential oil that promotes relaxation
Your brain will begin to associate these tasks with bedtime which will make it easier to fall asleep at night. You should also stick to a set bedtime and wake time each day.
As I have mentioned in previous posts on this subject, it is best to keep the room temperature cool at night. You may have to do a bit of trial and error here to find that sweet spot. You can also talk to your child’s pediatrician for more information on the optimal bedroom temperature.
The temperature isn’t the only thing to consider when discussing a comfortable bedroom atmosphere. One of the biggest influences on our quality of sleep is our bed.
From the bedding to the mattress to the bed frame itself, an uncomfortable bed will undoubtedly disrupt your sleep. This is true for any age group.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as not being able to find the right angle or position to sleep in. I discovered when I was in high school, that I slept best being propped up at a certain angle to avoid aggravating my back(I was a competitive gymnast).
In situations like this, you may want to look into an adjustable base for your bed. If you choose to go this route, I really encourage you to take some time doing your research so you can find the best adjustable base for your unique needs.
Also, the quality of your mattress can have a massive impact on your child’s sleep quality. I prefer a nice cooling gel mattress that isn’t too firm but I also don’t want to sink into it and my kids are the same way. The great news is, many mattress companies now allow you to test their mattresses for a period of time so that you can determine whether or not it’s a good fit for you.
We all have the occasional nightmare that wakes us from our slumber. However, if your child is waking up frequently at night due to nightmares or experiencing drowsiness during the day because of it, you should definitely bring this to the attention of their doctor.
Get Some Fresh Air
Make sure your kids and teens are getting outside every day for some exercise and much-needed fresh air. Believe it or not, this will also have an impact on their quality of sleep at night.
What actions do you include in your child’s bedtime routine if you have one? Please feel free to share in the comments!