Six Steps for Your Child’s Best Night Sleep

November 3, 2017 by in category Kids Health tagged as with 0 and 0

Caring for young kids is rewarding, but also challenging. You may hear a lot of “simple” tips and tricks for drastically improved behavior, but solutions that actually work are more difficult to find. One solution that actually works and can be simpler than we think, is sleep.

Children who get the right amount of sleep tend to be healthier both mentally and physically, than peers who are sleep deprived. This is more important than ever at a time when depression and obesity are so common in kids. Sleep helps kids perform better at school and get along better with friends. It also helps them in sports and other extracurricular activities. And of course, kids who get the right amount of sleep tend to be less moody. In addition to the immediate benefits, teaching kids proper sleep techniques and helping them to implement those techniques will decrease their risk for adult sleep-related problems like high blood pressure, depression, adult onset diabetes and obesity.

Happy, healthier and less moody kids are every parent’s dream. As a parent, you can make a big impact on the length and quality of their sleep by following the suggestions below.

How Do I Help?

  • Create an early and consistent bedtime. Kids are not little adults. Their bodies are unique and different in important ways and they thrive on going to sleep early. The more consistent you are at putting them down at the same time each night, the easier it will be for their bodies to acclimate and create a routine for sleeping and waking.
  • Create a regular bedtime routine and limit it to 15-20 minutes. Routines are important, but they shouldn’t be too long. Create clear expectations and be consistent.
  • Naps are a good thing when developmentally appropriate. Let your young children take age-appropriate naps, just don’t have them nap too late in the day. A nap too close to bedtime can be problematic for sleep as well.
  • Do quiet activities before bed. Dance parties are fun, but they may not be the best pre-bedtime activity. Helping kids relax is essential for a good bedtime.
  • Be smart about technology. Shut down screen time two hours before bedtime and don’t keep electronic devices in the bedroom. Electronic screens can upset their internal clocks and less distraction is better when it comes to sleep.
  • Be careful with food. If your kids are hungry before bedtime, have them eat a light and healthy snack. Help them avoid eating too much or giving them foods that may upset their stomach. Removing or decreasing caffeine-containing foods and liquids from your child’s diet can also play a big part.

How Do I Know if There’s a Problem?

Signs of sleep deprivation vary from kid to kid. Some get moody, some get hyper and others just seem tired. There are a few situations that can be particularly indicative of whether or not your kids may be struggling with sleep deprivation. If your child is frequently falling asleep in the following situations, then it’s likely that he/she is not getting enough good sleep:

    • Sitting and reading
    • Watching TV
    • Sitting inactive in a public place
    • Riding in a car for an hour without a break
    • Lying down to rest in the afternoon
    • Sitting and talking to someone
    • Sitting quietly after lunch, doing homework or while taking a test

Adopting new habits takes time and isn’t always easy, but it will make a big difference. Better sleep usually means healthier kids and happier parents. If you follow these guidelines but still notice signs of sleep deprivation in your child, contact your pediatrician to discuss additional solutions and options.

For more information on improving your child’s sleep visit http://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/healthy-sleep-in-children.pdf

Primary Children's Hospital
Primary Children’s Hospital ranks among the best children's hospitals. Located in scenic Utah, everything in our hospital is focused on providing the best care for children. For more than 90 years, we have been committed to helping children, families, and communities across the western United States.

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