Sleep provides our bodies with needed rest and helps our brains consolidate information and form memories. Getting inadequate sleep can lead to emotional dysregulation and problems with focus and attention. It’s hard for a tired brain to retain new information and make the necessary connections for learning.
Helping children get the appropriate amount of sleep on a regular basis is crucial for their physical, emotional, and academic development. While there are some conditions that impact sleep and may require medical intervention, there are many things we can do to help our children get the sleep they need.
- Establish a regular bedtime routine. Having a regular bedtime routine tells your brain it’s time to rest. This routine will include the usual teeth brushing and change of clothing. A quiet 30 – 60 minutes of reading or coloring cuddled up in a comfortable chair or on the bed can be a great way to get settled in for the night.
- Keep the same bedtime (most of the time). Children benefit from the consistency of a regular bedtime. Having an established bedtime helps the brain more easily drift off to sleep. Even teens will fall asleep more easily and get better rest if they stay on the same sleep schedule, even on weekends. It’s ok to deviate from your sleep routine on occasion, but there are great benefits to sticking to the schedule.
- Create a relaxing and quiet environment. Bedrooms should be dark, other than a dim nightlight if needed, and cool. The ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove screens from the bedroom. The light and activity from many of the screen-based activities our children enjoy can be highly stimulating and for many of our children, the temptation and distraction of having a screen in the room can disrupt sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that screens be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Make the bed only available for sleeping. Many children, especially teens, use their beds for homework, watching television, or playing on their devices. This can cause problems when it’s time for them to settle down for sleep. It is important that their bed only be associated with sleep so they don’t feel compelled to do something more exciting when it’s time for bed.
These tips will hopefully help your child get the sleep they need. If your child struggles with sleep, please contact your school guidance counselor to develop a sleep plan or discuss more strategies that can help.