Is your child getting enough sleep? If not, then this should be a cause of concern for you. Adequate sleep is necessary for infants as well as children. The growing age urges them to have sound sleeping patterns every day as this is the time when your munchkins undergo tremendous development in terms of their emotions and physicality. If they tend to be sleep deprived during their childhood years, they may have to face severe consequences in the near future.
So, whether you are new parents or veterans, one thing that you cannot afford to ignore is the sleeping pattern of your children. Being responsible parents, it is your duty to ensure that your kids are getting adequate sleep on a daily basis.
Now the million-dollar question arrives- How much sleep is enough for your children? To find the right answer to this question and understand the importance of sleeping, scroll down and get straight to the details.
How much sleep is needed for your children? Let’s see!
- Infants (4 to 12 months): 12-16 hours
- Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11-14 hours
- Pre-schoolers (3 to 5 years): 10-13 hours
- Grade-schoolers (6 to 12 years): 9-12 hours
- Teens (13 to 18 years): 8-10 hours
As per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), your munchkins should sleep this much for the healthy development of their body and mind.
What happens when your kids do not get adequate sleep?
If your kids are sleep-deprived, then they may come across the following issues:
- Extreme irritability: If your child is suddenly throwing so many tantrums and is getting angry and irritated at the drop of a hat, it is high time you check on his sleeping pattern. Maybe the poor soul is exhausted, tired and sleep-deprived. Prolonged sleep deprivation in children can thus make your children bad-tempered and aggravate their frustration and anger.
- Difficulty in learning and memorising lessons: If your munchkin is tired and has not slept well for the past few days, you will notice a lack of interest in studies. They won’t be able to learn or memorise their lessons easily as the brain stays exhausted.
- Weight loss: Quality sleep also fuels the human body. Thus, just like food, your child requires adequate sleep to maintain a healthy body weight. A sleep-deprived kid will never have the right body weight. Either he will start losing or gaining weight rapidly.
- Stunted physical growth: Lack of sleep also stops or slows down the physical growth and development of a child. So, if you are worried about your child’s short height or thin body frame, then it is high time you pay attention to his sleeping cycle.
- Emotional vulnerability: As per the latest survey reports, sleep-deprived kids tend to stay emotionally vulnerable. They can cry, throw tantrums, shout and do whatever they want without any reason.
- Health disorders: Inadequate sleep can increase the risk of health disorders like heart problems, obesity, stroke etc., even in young children.
- Inability to focus: No matter how hard they try, kids won’t be able to concentrate on any activity if they have not slept well. You will find them distracted while learning lessons, playing video games or doing any activity of their choice.
- Constant headaches: If your kid is complaining of persistent headaches, then you should check whether he is sleeping enough or not.
What to do if your child suffers from trouble sleeping?
Does your child act fidgety and try to avoid nighttime rituals? Then most probably, he is trying to avoid his sleep routine. Now that you know the importance of sleeping for your kids, you need to make some genuine efforts so that your kids do not stay sleep deprived.
Below-mentioned are some tips and hacks that will help in developing a holistic sleeping cycle and healthy sleep habits in your kids.
- Never compromise on sleep: Always prioritise sleep over any other activity. Practice this habit yourself and talk about this often in front of your kids. Let them understand that no amount of homework, office work, household chores or fun activities are more important than hours of sound sleep.
- Adhere to a sleeping routine: Create a practical and achievable daily sleeping routine for your children. For instance, let 10 pm be the final call to the bedroom for your kids. And depending on their age, adjust the wake-up time. Make sure you do not make frequent changes to this routine.
- Keep a check on screen time: Excessive exposure to screens can disturb the sleep cycle of both children and adults. So, if your kids are not too fond of sleeping, screen time can be a culprit. Limit their screen time and also switch off electronic gadgets like television, mobile, laptops etc., at least one hour before the kids go to bed.
- Create a cosy, sleep-supportive ambience in the bedroom: Your kids’ bedroom should be cosy, comfortable and clean. The moment they enter the room at night, the bed should feel welcoming. Try narrating bedtime stories to your toddlers and pre-schoolers. For teenagers and adolescents, you can experiment with deep sleep music or instrumental music that will allow them to fall asleep easily.
- Do not use sharp lights at night time: Invest in high-quality dim lights that emit yellowish, bluish or orangish light. Blackout blinds for windows and eye masks can also be used for adolescents.
- Make sure the bedroom is noise-proof: Try to opt for a noise-proof bedroom for your children if they find it hard to fall asleep. Even the slightest distraction will make them fully aware and active. So, it is better to let them sleep in a noise-proof bedroom.
- Try to make the bed as comfortable as possible: Check if the bed cushion is soft enough. Use light-coloured bed sheets, preferably in satin fabric, so that they feel comfortable on the skin. For the winter season, make sure that there are ample blankets and a room heater to keep your kids warm and comfortable.
- Keep the bed and surroundings clutter-free: Never keep your child’s bedroom dirty and cluttered. A neat and clean, de-cluttered room always feels welcoming. It keeps the mind calm. Also, a mild, natural room freshening spray can prove to be relaxing for the children.
- Be by your kids’ side if they are not comfortable sleeping alone: Never force your child to sleep alone. Maybe they need your presence to feel comfortable. You should never use words like “You are a grown-up kid now. You have to sleep alone,” “What will others say if they come to know that you are still sleeping with your parents?” Such words can hurt their self-esteem and make them less confident. Be available when your kids want you, especially while sleeping.
- Do not offer caffeinated drinks to children before bedtime: Discourage consumption of soft drinks, coffee, tea, Redbull, and similar beverages as these drinks can badly affect the sleep cycle of your children.
- Narrate stories to toddlers related to benefits of early bed and early rise: Right from the infancy period, start narrating stories that portray the importance of sleeping in children. This will stay with them forever in their subconscious mind.
Is it okay for kids to take a nap?
Naps are like those power buttons that keep your children energetic and amicable throughout the day. Contrary to popular beliefs, napping in the daytime can, in fact, help your children manage their day-to-day tasks and activities with much more proficiency. They will stay happy and relaxed after taking a nap. But as parents, it is your duty to maintain structured naps for your kids. For instance, set a napping time and do not let them sleep in beyond that time. Otherwise, they will find it hard to sleep again at night. And also, do not forget to add their napping hours to the total sleeping time as suggested by the AASM.
Life gets complicated as we grow up. Hectic work schedule, household chores, peer pressure, social life, personal entertainment- there is so much that we adults need to look after and put our time and efforts in. Our sleep cycle is bound to get disturbed as grown-ups. But at least we can help our kids to enjoy quality sleep. Well-slept children are always happy, well-behaved, energetic and focused. Use the tips and tricks to help your kids sleep well.
Wait no more, and set a sleeping routine for your kids today!