Your children always seem like they're on the go. Full of energy, it's a wonder you're able to keep up with them (naps do help when you can get them). It's because of this energy that you might not think about their sleep, but are your children getting enough sleep?
From the time they're born to the time they eventually move out, there's a good chance your children are not getting the sleep they need. Children need different amounts of sleep each night depending on their age. The older they get, the more likely they are of not getting enough sleep.
Older Children and Sleep
Take a moment to think about the average day for your high school-aged child. They're probably not eating as healthy as they should be. They're probably stressed about the world around them, stressed about the amount of school work and homework they have to do each day, stressed about their social status ... basically, they're just stressed out.
Only 31 percent of high schoolers reported getting at least 8 hours of sleep before school, when ideally teens need at least 9 hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation on a growing child's body can have even more serious effects than on adults, including weight gain, behavior problems and worse retention of new information.
You see teens on their phones/tablets/computers for a good chunk of the day, but they're also probably doing it at night when they should be sleeping. Using electronics before going to sleep will keep up children, teens, and adults. Talk with your teens about putting down their devices before going to bed - and the importance of getting a good night's sleep.
Younger Children and Sleep
Sleep times vary depending on the age of the child, but as a general rule, the younger the child, the more sleep they need. Toddlers need 11-14 hours a day to function effectively, while elementary and middle school children need anywhere from 9-11 hours a day.
There are clear signs to look for if you think your child isn't getting enough sleep:
- Lower engagement in activities
- Poor school performance
- Irritability or trouble managing emotions
- Lack of concentration or forgetfulness
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Trouble waking in the morning
Fortunately, there are ways to help make sure your children get enough sleep.
Naptime to the Rescue
One solution is to add a nap into your daily routine. Younger children are often expected to nap to get all the sleep they need, but this practice can be forgotten or ignored by teens. The body clock of teens resets at puberty, making them more alert later into the day and often making it difficult to fall asleep until 10 p.m., if not later.
Fortunately, younger children, teens, and adults can all benefit from a quick 30-45-minute power nap during the day. These naps, when taken early enough in the day, give that extra boost to get through the rest of the day until bedtime.
With children, not getting enough sleep is detrimental to growth in more ways than one; children who sleep less than 10 and a half hours a day by age 3 are almost 50 percent more likely to be obese than children who do.
Setting Up Positive Routines
Also, lack of sleep does a number on a child's immune system, making them more at risk for colds, flus, and other nasty bugs. In order to keep your child healthy and rested, here are some tips to make bedtime easier:
A good strategy to make bedtime a breeze, especially with younger ones, is to get set in a routine. Routine makes it easy on children to get used to going to bed at a certain time, or after they do certain things. For example, a popular strategy is to use the 4 B's; Bath, Brush, Books, and Bed. This strategy helps ease the toddler into a bedtime lull, giving better and longer sleep for the toddler, and easier good-nights for the parents.
While snacking before bed is not a good idea for most adults, Children (and parents) may find bedtime easier when the kids have some food in their belly. Try some healthy options like a bowl of cereal, graham crackers, or a piece of fruit. In moderation, these snacks work well to help put a restless child to sleep.
Especially for younger children, bedtime means separation, and that can be easier for kids with a personal object, like a doll, teddy bear, or blanket. It can provide a sense of security and control that comforts and reassures your child before she falls asleep.
For more info on exactly what you are putting yourself through when you skimp on sleep, check out our post 5 effects of sleep deprivation you may not know about.
Speak to the Experts
The sleep experts at Mattress Warehouse know exactly what your child needs to have their best night's sleep. Whether it's a new mattress or new bedding, be sure to drop by your local Mattress Warehouse location and see how you can make sure your children are getting enough sleep.