Most of us who have children want them to grow up healthy and happy. Or at least able to cope with the uncertainties of life so that they can find a measure of peace. Part of that effort is making sure your child has gets the right amount of sleep. The right amount sleep contributes to a healthy lifestyle by providing the body with rest. Additionally, the right sleep now can help the developing brain and provide a way to help your child cope with disappointment and stress.
The reality is that being tired can make everything more difficult. Now is the time to help your child develop good habits. Plus, with everything happening in a child’s body, the sleep can help him or her handle things better during times of stress. Children will be healthier emotionally and mentally with the help of good sleep. As a parent, it’s up to you to help your children get the right amount of sleep.
How Much Sleep Does Your Child Need?
Children need more sleep than adults. However, as with adults, the exact amount needed varies from child to child. But you can get an idea of how much sleep your child needs with these guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation:
- Age 0 to 2 months = 12 to 18 hours of sleep
- Age 3 to 11 months = 14 to 15 hours of sleep
- Age 1 to 3 = 12 to 14 hours of sleep
- Age 3 to 5 = 11 to 13 hours of sleep
- Age 5 to 10 = 10 to 11 hours of sleep
- Age 11 to 17 = 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep
You can see that there is a sleep range in there, so how much sleep your child actually needs depends on his or her own biology and level of activity.
Help Your Child Get Better Sleep
Part of the equation is also quality sleep. If you want your child to get a good night’s sleep, you need to make a little effort. First of all, if you want your child to go to bed regularly, it helps to have a routine. Work out a general schedule that works for your family and ensure that your child is in bed at a regular time. Sometimes our son gets to stay up a little later on weekends or for special occasions, but he’s also expected to sleep longer the next day. Have a regular time, though, helps the body learn to expect sleep during certain hours, and improve the quality of sleep. You should also make it a point to create a good sleep environment for your child. Keep distractions out of the bedroom. TVs, computers, phones, and other items should be kept out of the bedroom. Not only can these items keep kids distracted and awake, but the backlit screens on many electronic devices stimulate the brain in a way that impedes good sleep. Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet. You can also prepare your child for bed by having dinner early enough that a large meal isn’t being digested during sleep. Also, put a stop to the serious studying, video games, and other such activities an hour before bed. Your children should spend the time leading up to bed quietly reading, playing a quiet game, or taking time over the bedtime routine. The idea is to bring the body and mind into a state from which it is likely to derive rest. Finally, don’t forget to set the example. My husband and I don’t have a TV in our room, and we keep laptops out of our bedroom. We also make it a point to go to bed and wake up on regular schedules. Our son sees that we are doing the same things, and it makes it easier for him to accept the state of things, and develop his own good habits.