What is the one thing we spend the most time doing? Sleeping! Sleeping is a very important part of our life and contributes to our health. Getting a good amount of sleep gives our body time to rest, and our brain time to make new connections. When we don’t get enough sleep we can see the effects in many areas of our lives: difficulty concentrating, poor attention, poor judgment, decreased ability to learn, depressed mood, and even obesity, heart disease, and a depressed immune system.
Do you think your children are getting the sleep that they need to be successful in school and in relationships with friends and family? A National Sleep Foundation study recently found that 85% of teens do not get adequate sleep! Adequate sleep means 8-10 hours every night for a teenager and 9-11 hours a night for a school age child.
Poor sleep has become a larger problem over the last 20 years. What can you do to help ensure your child gets enough sleep? Here are a few sleep tips to try:
- Maintain a consistent bedtime. It is important for your body to always get up and go to bed around the same time, trying to limit fluctuations to 1 hour or less. This includes the weekends, holidays, and summer break. For older kids, avoid naps. Naps make it more difficult to fall asleep at bedtime.
- Make sure the room is cool, dark, and quiet. Use your bed only for sleep, not for playing or punishment.
- Eliminate caffeine or nicotine from your diet, especially after noon. The effects of caffeine on sleep can last for 8 hours!
- Try to spend some time outside in the sun during the day. Spending time in a dark house confuses the brain into thinking it is nighttime. Natural light during daytime is the best way to make sure your circadian rhythms are on track.
- Make up a relaxing bedtime routine. Try to always follow the same schedule so your kids know what to expect. Some good ideas are a shower, story time, listening to calm music, or writing in a journal.
- Eliminate one of the biggest enemies of sleep from the bedroom: The Screen! Looking at screens, especially screens from phones or tablets actually make your brain believe it is day and not night so your brain doesn’t release the sleep inducing hormone melatonin. Studies have shown people who have tvs in their bedroom get less sleep on average each night. It takes longer to fall asleep and you are less likely to stay sleep when there is a TV in your bedroom. Remove technology from the bedroom!
Try the above tips and see if you and your children start getting better sleep.