By Jordan Matthews
Kids spend between 40-60 percent of their lives asleep, depending on their age-- and, it’s for the best. Sleep helps children grow physically, mentally and emotionally-- boosting their immune systems, bone growth and improving learning capabilities.
Luckily, there are a lot of different ways to ensure children get the sleep their minds and bodies need. Below are a few suggestions to get your own kids started on a healthier sleep schedule and create habits for the rest of their lives.
Enforce a strict bedtime
Keeping your kids on a routine at bedtime can make it much easier for them to fall asleep on time. This is because maintaining a consistent sleep schedule will create a pattern for their circadian rhythms to follow, which will, in turn, reinforce their feelings of sleepiness at the appropriate times. It’s natural for bedtime to change as kids grow older, but not necessarily as much as most people think. School-aged children should be getting nine to eleven hours of sleep a night while teenagers should be getting eight to ten.
Help them de-stress before bed
Relaxing before bed can help anyone, adult or child, get higher quality sleep. A warm bath, stretching routine, or reading session, can go a long way in helping your child relax before falling asleep. Taking this time to de-stress can lower their heart rate and anxiety levels, ensuring a higher-quality rest throughout the night.
Eat a sleep-conducive dinner
The choices you make in your children’s diet can play a surprising role in their sleep quality. Some of their favorite foods, like chicken fingers and fries, can keep them tossing and turning with indigestion, but healthier options can actually help them fall asleep faster. Foods like salmon, spinach and eggs all contain sleep-promoting nutrients like magnesium and melatonin. These help the brain get sleepy and the body relax, easing the transition into sleep.
Provide a cozy sleeping environment
An ideal sleeping atmosphere is quiet, dark and comfortable. Be sure to outfit your child’s bedroom with all of these necessities, with variation depending on their individual needs. If you live on a noisy street, consider a soothing sounds machine, or, if city lights stream in through your windows, try blackout curtains for your child’s room. Lastly, give them a sense of comfort with a few stuffed animals for security and soft pillows they can cuddle up with. These small comforts should alleviate any anxieties your child has surrounding bedtime and allow them to fall asleep very easily.
Sleep is so important to a growing child that it’s crucial you teach your own how to get healthy rest. Follow these tips to help them learn how to look after their sleep and health for the rest of their lives.