As adults, we often tend to overlook (or ignore) the importance of a good night’s sleep. It is much harder to ignore the ill effects the next morning. We’re drowsy, grumpy, unable to concentrate, and the whole day passes in a fog – not something you want to happen to your child!
Teaching kids good, healthy sleeping habits early on is key to helping them stay on track as adults. Here are some ways you can help your child achieve the best quality sleep possible …
- Establish A Bedtime (and Bedtime Routine)
Our bodies are very good at establishing routines (and like to stick to them), which is why a bedtime is so important. Teaching kids a bedtime routine let’s their minds and bodies prepare for sleep as they brush their teeth, wash their faces, use the bathroom, etc. Going to bed (and even waking up) at erratic times throughout the week can lead to kids feeling jet lagged and unrested, which is the last thing they need when they are trying to learn.
- Limit Sugar Consumption
While keeping blood sugar levels consistent throughout the day and night is important, if your little one insists on a bedtime snack, choose it carefully. Something that has both carbohydrates and protein is a good idea since it will keep their blood sugars more stable as they sleep. An apple and peanut butter is a great example of a healthy snack, while a giant bowl of ice cream may make it harder to fall asleep, as well as spiking glucose levels.
- Avoid Drinking Excessive Amounts of Liquids
Drinking liquids too close to bedtime can understandably interrupt sleep cycles, since it usually means waking up in the middle of the night for a trip to the bathroom. Making sure your child is well hydrated during the day is the best way to avoid too much water before bed. If they are feeling particularly thirsty anyway, make sure that they have used the bathroom before going to bed.
- Cut Back On Screen Time
Using electronics, watching TV, or even reading a book on a backlit device can interrupt sleep patterns by delaying the release of the sleep-inducing chemical melatonin. Encourage your child to read an actual book (or device without backlighting) before bed, which will also help them establish their routine and relax before going to bed.
- Ideal Sleeping Conditions
As your child begins to shut their brains down for the night, make sure that everything else in their room is shut down, too. Computers and other electronics should be turned off to avoid distraction or disruption of sleep cycles, and lights should be turned off (with the exception of a night light, if needed). A room that is comfortably cool, dark, and quiet is the best environment for quality sleep.
Your child has a lot to learn before they are an adult and these are the formative years. By making sure that they get adequate sleep, you are helping them to function and learn at their highest possible capacity.
(Pssst! Speaking of bedtimes, you should get some sleep, too!)