Everyone knows that getting adequate sleep is essential for good health no matter your age. However, it’s especially important for children to get enough good, quality sleep for their growth and development.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, only 48% of children in the United States are getting the recommended nine hours of sleep most nights. What can this lack of sleep cause down the road? According to the Centers for Disease Control, not getting enough sleep could put your child at risk for Type 2 diabetes, poor mental health and attention problems.
The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do to make sure your child is getting the recommended amount of good sleep every night. Here are some of our best tips for making sure your child gets to sleep quickly and stays asleep through the night.
Tip 1: Create a Bedtime Routine
Human beings are creatures of habits, and kids tend to thrive with strong routines. Consistency is often key to making sure your child sleeps well every night.
A routine at bedtime may include:
- Setting a bedtime that is followed seven days a week to prevent the loss of routine on the weekends.
- Setting a time when all devices such as smartphones, tablets and TVs are shut off and powered down leading up to bedtime.
- Take the last 20 minutes before bedtime to enjoy a few quiet, soothing activities such as putting on PJs, brushing teeth and reading a book.
Bedtime routines create a sense of comfort for children.
Tip 2: Optimize Your Child’s Bedroom
An uncomfortable bedroom can hinder anyone’s sleep. Make sure your child’s bedroom is set up to encourage sleepiness when the time is right.
One way you can achieve this is by making sure the bedroom temperature is just right. According to the Sleep Foundation, the best temperature to sleep in is a cool 65 degrees.
Another way to optimize your child’s bedroom would be to pay attention to how much noise is being carried into the bedroom from other parts of the house or from outside. Consider noise-canceling curtains or the use of a fan or white noise machine to drown out any noises that may disturb their sleep.
Finally, make sure your home’s lighting is dimmed as it gets closer to bedtime to support healthy levels of melatonin. Keeping your child’s room as dark as possible is best. However, if they are afraid of the dark, a small nightlight is OK to use.
Tip 3: Don’t Sleep With a Pet
While your family pet may be your child’s best friend, it’s not a good idea to let them sleep together at night. The movements and noises your pet may make during the night can awaken your child several times. Instead, try having saying goodnight to your pet be part of the bedtime routine or let their furry friend sleep outside the bedroom door so they’re still nearby.
Tip 4: Cut Caffeine From Your Child’s Diet
This might seem pretty obvious, but caffeine can lurk in places you may not have suspected. Since caffeine acts as a stimulant, it can make falling asleep difficult as well as reducing the quality of sleep.
Even the smallest amount of caffeine can have a big effect on your child’s small body. If possible, avoid caffeine altogether. However, if this is impossible, make sure your child is caffeine free for at least six hours before bedtime to let it work its way through the child’s system.
Tip 5: Keep Your Child Active During the Day
Any parent who has watched their child fall asleep in the backseat after a busy day knows that being active promotes sleep in children. According to Medline Plus, one of the many benefits of exercise is that it can help people of all ages fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer. Make sure your little one gets a good amount of exercise every day to promote good sleep all night long.
It’s normal for children to go through phases of good sleep and then not-so-good sleep. However, sticking to these tips consistently can help your child get the nine hours of sleep they need every night.
If you’re concerned about your child’s sleep habits, the pediatrics team of Johnson Memorial is here to support you. The seven highly qualified pediatricians on the care team can help you determine whether your child needs better habits or something more is at play.
Contact our pediatrics team today to schedule an appointment to discuss your child’s sleep patterns or to take advantage of the many services we offer our young patients.