Another fantastic article from Michael Grose…..
How your kids can get a good night’s sleep
Many kids today are sleep deprived. Teenagers, in particular, don’t get enough sleep. They need between nine and 10 hours sleep each night, yet most get about seven or eight hours sleep. Some get less.
Not getting enough sleep leads to sleep deprivation, which is akin to jet lag, where kids don’t function at their optimum. Lack of sleep leads to irritability, decreased creativity and memory lapses. It also has strong links to anxiety and depression.
How sleep helps kids
Sleep maximises the brain growth which occurs with toddlers and teens. Sleep also consolidates learning: sleep research has shown that the brain practices what it has learned during the day when a child or young person is asleep. So sufficient sleep consolidates past learning as well as keeps kids fresh to maximise their future learning.
Develop good sleep habits when kids are young
Sleep experts stress that while adults may not have control over biology we can assist children and teens to establish good sleep patterns. Children usually carry good sleep habits into adolescence. If you struggle to get young children to sleep or constantly battle kids who want to stay up longer, some knowledge of good sleep habits may be useful.
Good sleep habits include:
1. Regular bedtimes Kids may fight this, but make sure kids keep regular bedtimes during the week and allow them to stay up a little later on weekends. Children need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep each day, while teens need a minimum of nine hours.
2. A 45-minute wind-down time before bed This includes: removing TV and other stimuli, calming the child down and limiting food intake (and caffeine for teens). The wind-down time informs the body clock that sleeping time is near.
3. A bedtime routine Have a bedtime routine, such as story reading and teeth cleaning, that signals psychologically that it is time for sleep. A set routine means that kids can predict. It also means that some children will fight bedtime so you need some good strategies in place to get kids to bed and make sure they stay there.
4. Keeping bedrooms for sleep Bedrooms that resemble caves are recommended. It gets tricky with mobile phones and other information technology, but it’s smart to keep devices and laptops out of bedrooms at sleep-time. This goes for parents too. I’ve noticed most parents sleep in technology-free bedrooms (apart from a clock-radio) yet their kids will have technology-full rooms. Also don’t let kids do schoolwork on their beds. If so, they’ll begin to associate bed with work, rather than sleep.
5. Maximise the three sleep cues These include: darkness (maintaining a cave-like bedroom); lowering body temperature (baths can be good for this); and melatonin (work within their cycle).
If your kids get less sleep than they should, check out the five habits above and work out which of these you can adjust to move things in favour of them getting more sleep.
More ways to help your kids get a great night’s sleep
Want help getting kids to bed? My best-seller ‘One Step Ahead’ has great practical ideas about bedtime, tidy bedrooms and getting cooperation from kids in all sorts of common situations.
It should be beside your bed!
NB: Know anyone else whose children have trouble getting to sleep? If so, why not send them this newsletter.
Here’s to better parenting (and better sleepers!).