While healthy sleep habits are important for adults, they're even more important for kids, who need a good night's sleep to help them grow and learn. That's why it's a good idea to establish a sleep routine—one that will remain as stable as possible—so that your toddler(s) can get a good night's sleep. Polysleep gives you some advice here below.
When should a bedtime routine be established?
As early as possible, so that the child gets used to it! In fact, the earlier a toddler gets into his or her bedtime routine, the easier it will be to stick to it night after night. You can then adopt new elements or eliminate some of them, because chances are that your 12-year-old preteen will ask you to stop reading Dr. Seuss before going to sleep.
How much sleep does a child need?
Just as adults have different sleep needs, a school-age kid may only need 10 hours of sleep per night while another child may need 13 hours; the important thing to keep in mind is that a kid in preschool and elementary school needs an average of 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night, preferably at similar times every day. Of course, a visit from Aunt Hilda on Saturday night or a special outing can cause a delay in sleep, but if the situation remains exceptional, that’s not a problem (our apologies to Aunt Hilda).
How to establish a bedtime routine?
To establish good sleep hygiene for the child, you can adopt certain habits, but any other similar routine, adapted to your needs, will do.
The routine should be positive.
Of course, if you spend the hour before your child goes to bed scolding him or her for all the toys they've scattered around the house, your child will be more stressed (and unhappy to get a lecture) and may have trouble sleeping. Try to make it a pleasant time for everyone—and you'll find that their nights may be less turbulent, which will help make yours more peaceful too!
Homework should be completed long before bedtime.
If your kid is old enough to have homework and lessons, make sure he or she has completed them by late afternoon or early evening. That way, your child’s brain won’t have been stressed for a while, which will help them sleep better.
The routine can last from 30 to 60 minutes.
Here again, it depends on your routine! For example, an hour before bedtime, you could ask your child to put away toys before bathing and putting on pyjamas. Brushing their teeth followed by a story—except for your 12-year-old preteen—and then by your nighty-night wishes will help your child relax before going to sleep.
Limit the use of screens.
Ideally, screens of all kinds (telephones, tablets, TVs) should be turned off up to 2 hours before going to bed (here we hear teenagers grumbling), so that the brain can go into "relax" mode and can secrete the melatonin necessary for a good night's sleep.
The consequences of sleep deprivation for children
According to experts at the Douglas Research Centre, affiliated with McGill University, a large proportion of children with C, D or E grades generally sleep 25 to 30 minutes less per night than children who regularly get As and Bs. Here, we see the impact of sleep deprivation in school-aged children in concrete terms.
And for your older teens, who might be tempted to play video games before going to bed and want to game for part of the night, for example, you should know those road accidents are more frequent among young people who regularly sleep less than 7 hours a night.
In a nutshell:
- Establishing a bedtime routine is important from a very early age.
- Preschool and primary school-age children need about 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night.
- Academic performance is directly affected by sleep deprivation.
- Aunt Hilda shouldn’t come for a visit every night.
Finally, if you want your child to enjoy a restful sleep, make sure the mattress is still good and offers adequate support. A foam mattress, for example, could be a good option if you need to change your child's bed, since your child will be able to use it for many years regardless of his or her size and weight, and will always sleep in it as comfortably as ever!
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