The National Sleep Foundation suggests that children aged 5-12 should get 10-11 hours of sleep per night (and around 9 hours for teens). Think of sleep as your child’s chance to recharge. It benefits their physical growth, weight, and even their immune system.
Researchers have found that children who get better quality sleep do better in math and language arts. Without enough sleep, kids have a harder time learning, paying attention, and remembering things. (And as any parent knows, they’re less pleasant to be around.)
We get it, though—getting your kid to bed isn’t always easy. Here are some strategies you can try to make sure they’re getting the rest they need.
- Have a consistent bedtime routine. Kids respond well to routines, which help everyone stay on track. Try setting clear blocks of time for free time, doing homework, having dinner, and getting ready for bed. For bedtime, go for a calming routine that includes taking a warm bath or shower and time for your child to quiet down. One of the best things you can do? Read with them.
- Limited screen time right before bed. While it may be tempting to hand over the iPad when your daughter insists she’s not sleepy, try to avoid it. The blue light produced by tablets and smartphones can disrupt kids’ biological rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep. Encourage reading, drawing, or other quiet activities in the time right before bed instead.
- Avoid sugary drinks or sodas in the evening. That includes sport drinks and even fruit juice. Public health experts call these drinks “liquid candy.” By the same token, avoid actual candy or sweet snacks, and anything with caffeine.
- Don't allow kids to have a TV in their room. Those who do are more likely to have sleep problems, along with other health concerns. It puts control of the TV in their hands, not yours, and that’s a bad idea all around.
- Make sure your child gets some exercise during the day. Like puppies, kids who exercise more during the day fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer at night. Make sure your school regularly provides gym and recess, and take advantage of local parks, playgrounds and sports leagues.
- And one more pro tip: If your child has their own mobile phone or tablet, make them charge it overnight outside of their room, like in the kitchen or family room. It’ll prevent them from staying up late online, and keep them from being disturbed by alerts or chimes while they’re asleep.
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