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As a parent, or grandparent, you are well versed in the strange sleep habits and daily difficulties in managing a child with naps and bedtimes. Sometimes they just don’t want to wake up, other times we go to extreme lengths to get them to just go to bed. Then once we have them asleep, you may witness the tossing, turning, kicking, talking and other anomalies that happen while their eyes are closed. As children grow, their circadian rhythms shift, and different habits or routines may be necessary to maximize their sleep through infancy to adolescence.
- 6 in 10 middle schoolers don’t get enough sleep
- 7 in 10 high schoolers don’t get enough sleep
**Sleep is critical to prevent obesity, poor mental health, physical injuries and attention or behaviour problems
Continue reading the information presented below, to understand what sleep patterns and behaviours are normal for each stage of development. As well as some simple tips and tricks to ensure your children can rest well, so that you can also get some well-deserved shut eye.
- Infants typically do not sleep through the night, and this is normal. At this stage of life, the circadian rhythm (natural sleep/wake cycle) is not yet established
- Toddlers typically have a sleep schedule which accommodates 2 naps/day
- Rousing through the night is typically because of a need (hunger or diaper change/bed wetting), do your best to perform any necessary duties with little outside stimulation such as noise or excessive light
Children (9 to 12 hours of sleep per night is ideal)
- Wind down time and keeping stimulating activities out of the bedroom is ideal
- Children tend to move more during sleep. Limb movements during sleep are quite common. The exact reason as to why children move more during sleep may be related to the fact that keeping the same sleep position is a learned behaviour
Adolescents (8 to 10 hours of sleep per night)
- Teens are programmed to have a later circadian rhythm, meaning they wake later in the morning and fall asleep later in the night
- Routine is important here, they may want to sleep in late during weekends, but maintaining a consistent routine will help them wake for those earlier school start times in the week.
Tips and Tricks for the family to rest well
- Set bedtimes and defined sleep routines
Setting a clear time for bed and not deviating from this helps to establish routine and set expectations. A regimented sleep routine for your child or grandchild such as teeth brushing, story telling, bedtime baths etc. helps to prepare the mind and body for sleep.
As an adult, you may also set your own routine before sleeping. For example, setting some time aside to read a chapter or two of your favourite novel, helps to ease your mind and relaxes your body.
- Limit screen time
More than ever, screens such as our cellphones, tablets and televisions have found their way into our bedrooms. The blue light that is emitted stimulates alertness and makes it much harder to sleep and get good quality sleep. Try to prevent screen time at least 1 hour before bed
- Fall Asleep in bed
It sounds simple, go to bed, go to sleep. But many parents carry children to bed once they are already sleeping. To establish the proper relationship between bed and sleeping, letting children fall asleep in bed is best. Bring them to bed once they are sleepy. If they wake in the middle of the night, be sure to walk them back to their room to go back to sleep.
Deep sleep often also occurs more often while sleeping in bed as opposed to falling asleep on couches or chairs.
- Avoid the bedtime munchies
Avoiding caffeine (yes that means chocolate), large meals, and sugary treats before bedtime is key. If you or your child or grandchild is hungry before bed opt for a healthy snack such as veggies and dip.
- Cut down on complaints and temper tantrums
Keeping kids calm before bed is key, especially in those toddler years. To minimize conflict allow them some control through the provision of choices. For example, which pajamas to wear to bed and which book they would like to read.
A good night’s sleep for all members of the family, especially children, is extremely important in performing daily functions, concentrating, and regulating one’s mood. Without it, you and your children may begin to feel like a different person. Fortunately, you can rest easy with the tips mentioned above and knowing that we’re here to help you on your journey to better sleep. Check out Sleep Aids on wellwise.ca for weighted blankets, contour pillows, and white noise sound machines to help achieve a better night’s rest.
The information presented in this blog post is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this post as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for professional counseling care. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.