Good quality sleep is absolutely essential for your child’s development. Good sleep quality will not only help them grow into healthy and strong adults, but will also affect the way they perform at school. But too many parents not only don’t know how to instill good sleeping habits in their children, but don’t even know what good sleeping habits mean. In this article, we’re going to give you a few tips to help your children adopt healthy sleep habits from a young age.
The Importance of Good Sleep in Children
But why exactly is sleep so important for young children? Well, for one, sleep helps improve concentration and even being deprived of one hour of sleep per day could severely reduce memory, attention and learning. Poor quality of sleep has also been linked with higher risks of developing ADHD. Too many parents are quick to resort to medication in these cases, but just instilling good sleep habits will prevent you from hooking your children on habit forming medication.
Sleep also plays an important role in the production of human growth hormones, which your children need more now than ever. Good sleep is also important for maintaining a healthy immune system and will lower the risk of your children developing infections or contracting infectious diseases like the flu.
Now let’s take a look at a few things you can do to make sure that your children develop good sleeping habits.
Lead by Example
We all know that children want to be just like their parents, and if you don’t have good sleeping habits yourself, you’ll have a hard time teaching them the importance of a good night’s sleep. But by sticking to a proper routine and establishing specific sleep schedules for each member of the family and sticking to them, they’ll be more likely to follow your example.
Don’t Miss the Optimal Sleep Window
Young children should go to sleep at around 7:00 to 7:30pm. This is the sweet spot where they’ll be more likely to fall asleep fast. Anywhere later than that, and their levels of cortisol are likely to jump, which could make it nearly impossible to get them to sleep.
Make sure that you establish a pre-sleep ritual to ease them into going to sleep. Maybe you could let them play their favorite games until 5:00, have dinner around 5:30, followed by a nice bath and get them into their jammies. Then you could go for a few stories before they fall asleep. And make sure that everyone else in the house is on board and slows down their activities during that time. You should also make sure that you stick to the same schedule every night, as children, especially toddlers, crave predictability.
Make Their Rooms a Sleep Haven
If you want to make sleep easier for your children, then you should make the proper room arrangements to make their bedrooms as conducive to sleep as possible. Make sure that you install dimmable switches and go for softer, warmer light options. Eliminate any sources of light inside the room. That means removing any type of digital display or electronics that might be emitting light.
If your child needs a nightlight, go for nightlights with red bulbs. They’re much less likely to disrupt their sleep cycle and confuse their internal clock. You should also do everything in your power to get them the best mattress possible.
When picking a mattress for a child, it’s very important that you focus on giving them the proper support and comfort. It’s also important that you pick a mattress that doesn’t retain too much heat, as little ones tend to be very sensitive to temperature changes. If you want more information on how to pick the best mattress for your child, you can check out this blog post from Mattress Nerd which will guide you on what to buy.
Respect their Nap Time
While it can be difficult to turn everything off during nap time, it’s very important that you respect their naps and make sure that everyone else in the house does to. Good naps should not be an option, and nothing beats a nice nap in a dark and quiet environment. While getting a nap in the car or in a stroller is better than nothing, you should always provide them with the optimal environment for proper sleep.
Avoid Certain Snacks Before Bedtime
If you’re going to give your children snacks before bedtime, try to go with something that is high in protein and low in sugar. High protein snacks like a cup of milk, or low sugar yogurts will actually help them sleep better since protein demands a lot of energy to be broken down and digested. And avoid things like soft drinks, chocolate milk or bottled tea as they may contain caffeine.
Instilling proper sleeping habits into your children is possible if you take the proper steps. Always make sure that you also set a good example and make sure that everyone else in your household plays their part.