Tuesday, February 9, 2016

X, Y & Zzzzzzzzs

In today's world, after school activities and busy work schedules can really get in the way of a structured bedtime routine and, as a result, an adequate sleep. With that being said, getting your children to bed each and every night can be a difficult task for parents, but I believe it to be one of the most important ways to maintain their physical, emotional and cognitive health. Research I've come across from the National Sleep Foundation suggests that, while we sleep, our brains are actually cleaning themselves (e.g., getting rid of brain "garbage") and making way for new neural pathways and connections.

Here is a bit of additional yet important information taken from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Typically sleep between 11-13 hours per night 
  • Difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night and nightmares are common
  • Sleepwalking and night terrors peak during this developmental time
  • Should sleep in a room that is dark, quiet and TV free
*Ensure your child has a bedtime routine that ends in the room where the child sleeps. This can include a warm bath, story, songs, etc. This should NOT include screen time. 
*Consistency is key 

School Age Children
  • Require 9-11 hours of sleep per night
  • Are prone to sleep problems and disorders
  • Should also follow a regular and consistent routine
  • Should avoid caffeine (in general, but particularly 4+ hours before bedtime) 
  • May benefit from reading before bed, which can help promote sleepiness
  • Should NOT be going sleep with a TV, iPhone, or iPad in their room. Parents, please confiscate their mobile devices before bed. Yes, they won't like it, but they'll learn to accept it as long as the rule is enforced. 
*Some children may benefit from a nightlight, stuffed animals and other toys/objects that serve to comfort while sleeping. This is perfectly OK and age appropriate. 

From my experience, if you're having difficulty putting your children to bed and/or keeping them in their beds at night, again, consistency in your response is critical to achieving your desired outcome. One of the best methods I've seen (and read about) is demonstrated in the video below. I feel for this parent but, the bottom line is, if you stay strong, it WORKS!

Usually within 3-4 nights, the struggle should minimize significantly, if not altogether disappear. Children will continue to test the boundaries, however, which can be expected. Like with other forms of discipline, the benefits of a good night's sleep (e.g., increased concentration, elevated mood, greater academic achievement, etc.) far outweigh the emotional turmoil experienced by many parent's whom have to cope with the aftermath of setting these limits. If your gut feeling is that something medically may be going on that is preventing your child from falling and/or staying asleep, please consult your child's pediatrician.

For more information on all things child development & parenting, please visit one of my favorite websites, www.ahaparenting.com

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how many of our students are getting the recommended hours of sleep per night. I would love to be able to sleep for 11-13 hours!