Sleep is as important to our health and well-being as food and water, but most of us don’t get enough of it. For children, sleep plays a critical role in their healthy growth and development. Beyond simply affecting children’s moods, behaviours, and academic performances, insufficient sleep has also been associated with lower social skills and learning disabilities.
How much sleep is enough?
When experts study the sleep needs of children, they consider the amount of sleep children need in a 24-hour period, including naps. Since every child is different, sleep charts are not exact. However, there are some agreed-upon ranges for children of different ages. According to sleep specialist, Dr Kenny Peter Pang, in his book titled Sleep Matters: An Adult and Child Guide, children need 10 hours of sleep per night. “Developing firm bedtime routines will help kids to sleep and stay asleep. Parents may also need to adjust your child’s schedule to allow more sleep,” advised Dr Kenny.
Be a schedule stickler. If your kid’s bedtime is at 8.30pm, help them set their internal clock by not allowing them to stay up for the extra hour, or letting them snooze later on the weekend than they do on weekdays.
5 good sleep habits
- Establish a schedule of the day’s main events, such as the same waking time, nap time, and meal times. Regular routines offer young children comfort and security.
- Vary your child’s daytime activities, and ensure that they are interesting and varied. Be sure to include physical activities and outdoor activities as much as possible.
- Determine a simple bedtime routine that is well suited to your child, such as reading a book, or talking for a few minutes about the day’s events.
- Give some time to determine your child’s ideal bedtime. For example, observe them over several evenings and note when they begin to slow down and act physically tired. That is the time they should be going to sleep, so plan to begin their bedtime routine prior to that time.
- Make bedtime a special time. It should be a time to interact with your child in a way that is secure and loving, yet firm. Go through your bedtime routine together, then it’s lights out and time to go to sleep.
Sleep habits – both positive and negative – are established early in a child’s life, often in infancy. So, the key here is to help your child establish good sleep habits early. What are some tips that have worked for you? Let us know below!