Often times neglected, sleep is essential to one’s overall well-being as exercising and eating a healthy diet. While both adults and children need a deep period of sleep to energize or recover after a long busy day, studies show that the lack of sleep can have harsher effects on the latter.
According to Sujay Kansagra, MD, Director of Duke University’s pediatric neurology sleep medicine program in North Carolina, “Young people, especially teens, are still developing their frontal lobe and decision making skills, but when sleep deprivation is exacerbated, your frontal lobe is most impaired.”
The involved risk is not only limited to affect academic performance but lack of sleep, when combined with exposure to germs, can also lead to illnesses or serious health problems among children.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to take care of your kid’s health. Simply tucking them in bed will not guarantee they will go to sleep before you do. Establishing healthy bedtime routines will help you in getting your child fall to sleep and wake up well-rested and refreshed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states in the book "Guide to Your Child's Sleep" that "it's almost impossible to over stress the importance of a calm, orderly bedtime routine."
Here are effective bedtime routines that you should teach to school-aged children.
To create a calming and comfortable space for sleep, make sure to turn down any noise in the house and put on a dim light. Correct lighting is important since the brain associates dark and light with being asleep and being awake.
Singing your kids lullabies or playing one and finding the right temperature in a room are likewise important factors that will help your kids fall asleep quickly.
Aside from setting the mood with lights and music, providing your child with a soft mattress and pillows to sleep on will give them a comfortable night's sleep. Additionally, studies suggest that cleaning and decluttering the bedroom will help children ease into sleeplessness.
Nowadays, kids can be easily distracted with gadgets, making them lose focus on their homework and even have trouble getting to sleep. To control your kid’s electronics use, only schedule a time during the day where they can play video games, watch tv, or talk to the phone.
When it is nearing bedtime, all electronics must already be kept away from children’s reach. Your child can have trouble sleeping when exposed to stimulating activities 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. Read your kids bedtime stories instead.
You can let him pick books to read, but make sure to narrow down the choices to books with sleepy themes and skip the books about monsters. The point of bedtime reading is to try to lull and relax the child and not to excite him that he no longer wants to go to sleep.
Hunger can interrupt a child’s good night's sleep. That is why you must always make sure your kid eats dinner well and does not go to bed with an empty stomach. If you are having early dinners at home, it would help to give your child some healthy bedtime snacks.
With the long hours between dinner and breakfast, a good bedtime snack will help your child’s little tummy go through the night. An ideal sleepy-time snack is a carb-protein combo, which includes cereal and milk, oatmeal, cheese and crackers, and cereal and yogurt or milk.
However, do not forget about the teeth-brushing part after every meal or snack since it is important for your child’s health. Bacteria can easily build up at night and attack those growing pearly whites.
Consistency is key when teaching your kids healthy habits. You cannot expect your kids to learn or change behavior if you keep changing the rules around the house. If you want your kids to get enough hours of sleep, make sure they go to bed on time.
Sleep expert Wendy Hall from the University of British Columbia said that “kids who don't get enough sleep on a consistent basis are more likely to have problems at school and develop more slowly than their peers who are getting enough sleep."
Setting up a regular sleep time and wake time will help you get your child to sleep on time. For school-aged children 6 to 12 years old, experts recommend 9 to 12 hours of sleep on a daily basis.
One big problem with school-aged children is that it usually takes a long time before you can get them to sleep. However, giving your child a warm relaxing bath might just do the trick. Your kid can get all dirty playing in the school grounds the entire day, so a warm bath before bedtime will also help him get cleaned up and sleep comfortably.
Another helpful way of getting your child to sleep is by giving him a gentle massage. If you have been to massage parlors, you will know how relaxing after every session feels. When it comes to your kids, massage can also have added benefits.
Research says that massage helps to release serotonin, the body’s ‘anti-pain’ chemical, and thus, allows for a deeper and more restorative sleep. On top of that, regular massage sessions with your child help strengthen your mother-child bond. You can learn from experts the safe and healthy massage techniques to give to your kids.
It is wrong to think that your child will outgrow poor sleeping habits. Without doing anything about it, your child will continue to sleep poorly to the point that it affects his health. Train your child to get in a good bedtime routine by using visual teaching tools.