How to Help Your Child Get Healthy Sleep
February 29, 2016
by Mankato Clinic
We know that as adults, we may have sleep problems that arise during our lifetime, but did you know that it’s just as common for kids to have trouble falling, and staying asleep, too?
As it is for you as a parent, it’s just as important for children to get a healthy night’s sleep. Bedtime can be a battle, but it doesn’t have to be. Following these tips may help your child get the sleep their body needs. In return, you’ll sleep better, too!
- Children ages 3-6 should typically go to bed between 7-9 p.m., and wake up around 6-8 a.m., just as they did when they were younger. As children get older, naps gradually become shorter. Children ages 7-12 should sleep 10-11 hours per day, as social, school and family activities inhabit their lives more and more. By the time your child is 12, try and have them go to bed by 9 p.m. The average sleep for your child at this age should be around 9 hours.
- It may seem nice to allow your child to wake up later on the weekends and holidays, but try to stick to the same bedtime routine they have throughout the rest of the week. This will cause their bodies to become accustomed to a sleep schedule. If they wake up later than normal a few times a week, they can become groggy and jet-leg like, making it hard for their bodies to feel tired at its normal bedtime.
- Each night, have the same bedtime routine in place for your child. Doing specific activities before bed – like taking a bath, brushing their teeth and reading – sets the perfect atmosphere, and will have your child’s body automatically start to become sleepy at the beginning of the routine.
- Turn off the electronics and television at least two hours before bedtime. Artificial light from a TV or iPad can interfere with our body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that is an important piece of sleep-wake cycles. Turning off the artificial lights before bedtime will help melatonin levels stay at their highest, when people are most sleepy and ready for bed.
- If your child has bedtime fears, do your best to help reassure them that they will be safe in their bed. Buying a can of “Monster Spray” (air freshener with a creative label) or making up a rhyme to help calm their nerves, will help your child sleep more at ease.