A child’s energy level can be amazing as they plug through a busy day of school, sports, homework and play without slowing down. However, children need plenty of good quality, restful sleep to stay ahead of the game.
Sleep is essential for the brain and body’s repair and restoration and may also influence growth and a child’s ability to fight infection. Children who get too little sleep may also have poor school performance, trouble with sports or adjusting to social settings. Children ages 5-10 should sleep about 11 hours each night, and teens need between 8 and 9 hours each night.
Establishing a good bedtime routine and making sure it is enforced are good first steps for restful sleep. Try to encourage quiet activities before bed like reading, and put children to bed at the same time each night. Avoid food and drinks with caffeine (like soda and chocolate) and try to avoid exercise at least three hours before trying to sleep.
Many children have a television in their room and some even sleep with it on, but bright lights can lower the amount of the sleep chemical known as melatonin that is produced by the brain. Melatonin production is triggered by dim lights and darkness—the reason you get sleepy in the evening when the sun goes down. Providing your children with a TV-free sleep setting will help them sleep more deeply.
Busy schedules can make it hard to get everyone ready for bed on time, but taking a few simple steps can help your child focus and feel rested for all they must do each day. Caregivers of children play a key role in helping them be their best by ensuring a good night’s sleep.