Sleep for Success: How Sleep Affects Your Kids and How You Can Help Them Snooze Better
Sleep is the act and avenue of how the body regenerates its many working parts and restores them back to tip-top shape, energy, and stamina.✨ But sometimes, it gets taken for granted, and the lack of it can disrupt not only your child’s day but his or her developmental process.
Recent studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that over 34% of young children don’t get enough sleep. For pre-teens and teenagers? That number shoots up to almost 70%.😶
Learn about the importance of sleep for your kids, and how you can encourage them to sleep better, night after night.
What Does Sleep Do For Your Child?
Brain Juice (as we like to call it 🧠)
Not just during playtime, when being chaotic (albeit adorable) comes naturally in little ones.😅🙈 But “brain juice” in any activity that requires focus, along with the application of cognitive functions. Studying, reading, memorizing, analyzing, creating, etc. Good, good doses of nightly sleep enhance all of these brainpower flexes.
Health Power 💪
When the body and its many systems and organs therein are given the rest they need to recharge every night, they’re able to operate at their optimum. This amounts to an overall boost in immunity against infection and disease-causing free radicals, stable blood sugar, improved metabolism (and a lower risk for obesity), a stronger heart and lungs, and so much more.
Mood and Behavior Boost ⭐
Since not getting enough hours of sleep makes the mind and body tired and sluggish, mood and behavior will most certainly turn from “cheery” to “cloud-over-one’s-head gloomy”. These, then, bring about irritability, stress, and in serious cases, anxiety.😔 Yes, even children suffer from these emotional and mental challenges. But sleep is that one magic potion that turns the tide and transforms kids back to the energetic fireballs they ought to be!
What Are the Symptoms of Insufficient Sleep in Children?
- Trouble paying attention
- Low energy (or very short bouts of energy before quickly running out of it)
- “Moodiness” and irritability
- Slower physical and cognitive responses
- Decreased social interactions (than usual)
- Quickly falling asleep any time within the day (in school, during online classes, quick drives in the car, etc.)
How To Get Your Kiddos To Sleep (Better)
1. Bed Time, On-Time
No more “an extra 5 minutes, please”s. It might be time to jumpstart your child’s body clock or “circadian rhythm”, and re-train it to follow proper sleep hours. Observing a sleep schedule is a practical approach to this. Non-negotiable.😁
2. Wake Up Time On-Time
A fixed “sleep time” should be coupled with a “wake-up time” come morning. Studies show that children who get up from bed early and consistently each AM (school days, to be exact) tend to be highly productive throughout the day, and for hours on end.
3. Unplug Gadgets (Plus Melatonin Info In a Nutshell)
The body naturally releases melatonin, a.k.a. the “sleep hormone” when it’s almost time to snooze (a callback to rebooting your children’s body clocks in #1). But still staying glued to phone, laptop, and tablet screens prevent this.
Sleep researchers continue to echo the same fact: extended exposure to blue light emitted by electronic gadgets disrupts melatonin release. Hence, gently and lovingly tell your kids to power all of their electronic Whosits and Whatsits off, and store them in the family’s designated area for keeping unplugged gizmos (preferably NOT in your children’s own bedrooms 🤭).
Extra Tip: It might be tough to pull your kids away from their gadgets. Instead, try a different approach. A compromise: you provide them with how many hours a day they can gadget-away, and they’ll give you a fixed schedule for when those hours should be (school at-home log-ins or homework times considered, of course).
4. Lights Out Means Lights Out
Much like how blue light doesn’t help the sleep hormone work as it should, the same is true with artificial lights. Whether they be LEDs, fluorescents, and incandescent bulbs, “lights on” from indoor lighting fixtures signal the nervous system to slow down its melatonin production.
Since light exposure is one of the body’s means of telling itself that it’s time to get up and stay up, children will have a tougher time catching premium zZZ.
So, by nightfall, “lights out” is for all artificial lights in your home. If your kids aren’t used to sleeping without them just yet, perch a tiny and dim nightlight in the corner of their room. By the way, if your children’s desks for youth and toddlers or adjustable height children’s tables have study or reading lights, switch those off, too!
5. Get to Relaxin’
Those 1 to 2 hours right before sleep time should be free of activities. Dinner, dishes and other chores, homework (if any), running around, and gadget time should already come to a halt. Be all zen before the sheep-counting commences.
6. Join In On Your Kids’ New Sleep Timetable
Fingers crossed that your schedule will allow you to, motivate your children as they follow their new sleep timetable by joining them. For instance, if they’re stashing away their iPhones and androids in preparation for slumber, do that as well. Set your handhelds and tablets aside. Or if it’s brush-your-teeth time before bed, stand next to them and brush away at your pearly whites, as though you’re also getting ready to snatch forty winks.
If you’ve still got work-from-home work to do, continue with them after you’ve tucked your little ones into bed. Seeing mommy and daddy follow the sleep rules of the house is a natural way to encourage your kids to do the same.
Recommended Amount of Sleep Per Age Group
- Infants (4-12 mos.): 12 to 16 hours (+naps)
- Toddlers (1-2 yrs): 11 to 14 hours (+naps)
- Preschoolers (3-5 yrs): 10 to 13 hours (+naps)
- School-aged Kids (6-12 yrs): 9-12 hrs
- Teens (13-18 yrs): 8-10 hrs
The key to coming up with a good, working, and workable sleep schedule for kids lies in “consistency”. Be patient as you ease your little ones into their new sleep timetable. Soon, they’ll develop the habit of sleeping on time and sleeping the right number of hours, so they can shine as they should in school, at home, and elsewhere, no matter their tasks at hand.🤗✨
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