Parents play an important role in helping their kids establish healthy sleeping habits that will hopefully stick with them for the rest of their lives. Kids and teens need predictable bedtime routines, age-appropriate bedtime schedules, comfortable sleeping environments, and more. Keep reading for a quick breakdown of healthy sleep tips.
Create a Routine: Bedtime routines are not just for infants and toddlers. Having a predictable routine helps kids of all ages wind down before bedtime and enjoy a more peaceful night’s sleep. It is also the perfect time to ensure that kids brush their teeth and attend to other matters of personal hygiene. Younger children often enjoy a warm bath and a bedtime story to help them get ready for sleep. Routines for older children and teens could include listening to music, reading a book by themselves, or talking with a parent about their day.
Have a Bedtime: Having a set bedtime each night is one of the best things you can do to help support your child’s natural circadian rhythm. Although your child does not have to fall asleep right at this time, they do need to be in their room with the lights out. Kids can engage in a quiet activity such as talking with a parent or sibling or reading a book in bed. You can calculate your child’s ideal bedtime by looking at the time they need to wake up for school and cross-referencing their age with their ideal amount of sleep. For example, an eleven-year-old who has to wake up at 7 a.m. should be in bed by 10 p.m. at the latest.
Unplug: For older kids and teens, it is especially important to enforce a technology curfew. Phones, laptops, and other electronic devices should be turned off or put away at least one hour before bed. Not only are phones a distraction, but the blue light emitted from screens has a negative effect on the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Excessive exposure to blue light can cause sleep and mood disorders, as well as affect your child’s hormones.
Don’t Change Bedtimes: As tempting as it may be to let your child stay up late on weekends and school holidays, you don’t want their sleep patterns to stray too far from their regular bedtimes and wake-up times. As much as possible, try to enforce a bedtime that falls within an hour or so of your child’s usual schedule, even on holidays and weekends.
Ensure a Comfortable Room: Kids should have a quiet and restful place to fall asleep, with dim lights and a comfortable mattress. Younger children may request a nightlight or a sound machine to help them fall asleep. Consider playing soft music at bedtime and avoid keeping a TV in the bedroom. In fact, your child’s room should be a screen-free zone after their lights-out time. Lastly, make sure the temperature in your child’s room is tolerable, and consider adding a fan, heater, or cool mist humidifier if needed.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s sleeping habits, give us a call today to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly board-certified pediatricians.