Today’s children are not getting enough sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) only 31% of teens get at least eight hours per school night.
Insufficient sleep contributes to all kinds of emotional and health issues such as:
· Behavior problems and aggression
· Weight gain
· Lack of energy
· Difficulty concentrating
· Weakened immunity
Contrast that to children who get enough sleep. Adequate sleep leads to a healthier immune system, improved school performance, better behavior, and less mental health issues.
Babies, children, and teens need significantly more sleep than adults. Their brains and bodies are developing rapidly and adequate sleep is crucial for that development. That’s why The American Academy of Pediatrics makes the following recommendations.
So how can you tell if your child is getting enough sleep? According to Dr. Jennifer Shu, Special to CNN, if your child wakes up fairly happy and easily in the morning and does not have a meltdown in the late afternoon from being over-tired, he or she is probably well-rested.
Here are 8 tips to help your child get the required amount of sleep:
1. Have a set bedtime. Try to have your child go to bed at the same time each night—even on weekends.
2. Stop all screen time at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from a glowing screen stops the release of melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall asleep and then stay asleep.
3. Keep all electronics—smartphones, computers, laptops, TV, tablets, etc.—out of your child’s bedroom. Enforce the rule that all portable devices be left in the PARENT’S bedroom at night.
4. Avoid scheduling activities— like lessons and sports—in the evening. Make going to bed on time a priority for your children.
5. Have your child exercise during the day. Encourage at least an hour of physical exercise a day, but not too close to bedtime.
6. Get your child into a bedtime routine. A bedtime routine helps your child wind down and know it’s time for bed. Keep your routine simple, like the 4 B’s of Bedtime: Bathe, Brush, Book, Bed.
7. Keep toys to a minimum in your child’s bed. Try limiting toys in the bed to a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. We want them to associate their bed with sleep, not play.
8. Avoid exciting video games, scary movies, or stimulating TV shows before bed. This stimulating media can release a hormone called adrenaline—which arouses you and keeps you alert.
So don't feel guilty if you want to put the kids to bed early. They need more sleep!