By Brian Byrne
Whether you are an infant, adult, or senior, sleep is an essential part of living. Sleeping allows a person’s body to recuperate from the stress and exhaustion of the prior day. A good way of viewing sleep is like a period at the end of a very long sentence. However, the question is, how much sleep is enough sleep? And more specifically, are your children getting enough sleep with the hustle of the day?
For children ages 6-12, the recommended amount of sleep, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, is between 9-12 hours per night. It is evident that children who go to school are typically exhausted due to homework assignments, extracurricular activities, and clubs. To ensure your child is not overworked from their social and school life, a healthy sleeping routine is needed.
If a child is sleep deprived, this can lead to fatigue and unhealthy living habits, ultimately affecting their schoolwork and behavior. It is no help that current societal norms encourage sleep deprivation. Children are taught at a young age that school comes first, leading to tireless nights of homework and studying, when, in reality, their health should be prioritized. So, how should parents and guardians approach this issue, optimizing their child’s sleep schedule?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Sally Ibrahim, a pediatric sleep specialist, said that not getting enough or quality sleep for a long time can take a toll on a person’s health. Dr. Ibrahim suggests, “Rewarding smaller children for sticking to the sleep schedule may serve as extra motivation. Helping your kids get their rest is a great preparation fur success at school and in life.”
Bed Time Tips
- Map out a block of time the child must fall asleep in order for them to sleep at least 9 hours. If a child’s bedtime is routinized, woven in just as waking up for school is, their body will naturally tire.
- Fill the nighttime routine with amusement. Little tricks such as dancing while brushing your teeth or reading a bedtime story each night are great ways to attract the little ones to tuck in early.
- Remove all electronics from the room. A recent study conducted by Harvard University shows that children who look at bright screen 2-3 hours before bed have a more difficult time falling asleep. This is due to the blue lighting found in most electronic devices that affect the child’s melatonin secretion—a sleep, assisting hormone.
- Personalize the sleeping process for your child by telling them fictional or family stories.
- Lastly, avoid sugary and caffeinated items at least two hours before bed! Instead, try to concoct sleep-inducing drinks such as warm milk and cinnamon.