Sleep for Kids: You have a deadline to meet there is no way that it is going to get extended. The client is behind your back breathing down your neck you spend night and day working on it.
First day you managed to get by with only couple of hours sleep. You are okay but you feel a little bit tired.
The second day you tried to do the same thing. This time you are not only tired you are also feeling very irritable grumpy and grouchy. You also notice that your work has slowed down, and mistakes starts creeping in. You are not feeling active in the present and you are a bit forgetful
The thought that you must do the same thing the 3rd day makes you want to throw your laptop and just go get sleep.
Why do you think it would be any different for our children? In fact, it would be much more for them cause there they are expected to have more sleep than us to keep up with their growth.
- What does good night’s sleep mean?
- What are the parts of sleep?
- Statistics on sleep and sleep deprivation
- Know how much sleep your child should be getting
- Sleep disorders in children and the Effects of lack of sleep
- How to deal with sleep trouble
- Things to know about your child’s sleep
- 17 helpful sleep tips for parents for kids of all ages
Getting good sleep is easier said than done. Spending 1/3rd of the day sleeping might sound a waste of time/frustrating for people with “I sleep when I die” mindset.
But as engine oil is important to a car, sleep is equally important for the proper functioning of the human body.
Lack of sleep in kids can lead to disruption in cognitive function, forgetfulness, and much more. But even if we engross all those good and bad about sleep, putting kids to sleep will not be an easy thing to do. So, let us discuss the best ways to make kids go to sleep.
What does Good Night’s sleep for kids mean?
Sleep for kids is an important part of your physical and mental health. Many wonders what a good night’s sleep means? Is there a formula for it? Are there any measuring units to it? And many such related questions.
For starters, an adult should have at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night and for children, depending on their age, they should get 9 – 13 hours of sleep each night.
Apart from that, here are some signs that prove you or your child is having a healthy sleep.
- Falling asleep within 15 – 20 minutes of lying on the bed.
- Waking up feeling refreshed
- Feeling productive and alert after sleep.
- Having continuous sleep without sudden breaks.
What are the parts of sleep?
The sleep we have has 5 stages. Knowing about them can help us understand more about the process of sleeping.
First the sleep is divided into 2 parts as NREM (no rapid eye movement) sleep and REM sleep. Non-REM sleep consist of 4 stages, altogether this makes 5 stages.
Wake stage – Here you have closed your eyes, but it will be easy to wake you up. In common man’s terms This is when you wake up in the morning, but you are still not out of bed, but you are rolling around. One of my favourite stages of sleep.
Light Sleep – This is the stage when you are now getting ready to enter deep sleep. Your body temperature drops, and heart rate slows down.
Deep Sleep – This is the stage where body growth occurs, and it will be harder for someone to wake you up. Rising from a deep sleep will make you disoriented and groggy. A sudden sound that startles you from sleep. Makes you wonder where you are, which side of the bed you need to get out of. All this happens when you are you are woken up in deep sleep.
This is considered the last and most active stage of sleep. You may enter REM sleep within the first 90 minutes of falling asleep.
REM sleep is characterized by having rapid eye movement, fast and irregular breathing patterns, and high heart rate.
During REM sleep the brain will be in a state of activeness like that seen while awake. This is often associated with having dreams. REM sleep occurs several times during sleep.
Did You Know: In infants, REM sleep accounts for 50% of their sleep cycle. REM sleep is believed to be beneficial in learning, memorizing, and having a better mood.
Statistics on sleep and sleep deprivation
We take sleep for granted. Sleep deprivation is on the rise. Here are some statistics about sleep deprivation and sleep in general.
These surveys were conducted by Sleep Solutions startup, Wakefit. Co, and across the country.
- 11-1 pm is the time where 51% of Indians go to sleep (probably Netflix at play)
- 16% are not able to sleep at night
- 80% of Indians feel sleepy at work.
Apart from this survey, the average sleep duration has decreased globally.
Indians on average sleep 7.16 hours a day. Here are some of the global statistics of sleep conducted by Philips.
- 44% of adults say their sleep have been worsened over the last 5 years
- 26% of people have problems sleeping at night
(Note: These data have been taken from a limited group of people. So, they should be absorbed with a grain of salt.)
Guidelines for Sleep for Kids
The recommended sleep time for a child may vary depending on several factors. But here are some general guidelines to follow.
1-4-week old’s – 15-16 hours a day
1-12 months old – 14-15 hours a day
1- 3 years old – 12-14 hours a day
3-6 years old – 10-12 hours a day
7 – 12 years old – 8-10 hours a day
DID YOU KNOW: Due to undeveloped brains, very young children do not dream or enter REM sleep.
DID YOU KNOW: While this may sound untrue esp. if you have a very active kid and you are an exhausted parent. But the fact of the matter is children spend 40% of their childhood asleep.
Consequences of Lack of sleep
We know lack of sleep can make you feel groggy and tired. But there is more to it. Here are some problems caused by a lack of sleep.
- Low motivation
- Problems in learning
- Increased irritability
- Blurred vision
Note: Continuation of sleep deprivation will lead to some serious problems such as anxiety and depression along with physical health issues like weight gain.
Dealing with sleep trouble.
Like anything in life, it is better to maintain discipline for sleeping.
In that way healthy sleep habits can be formed. Most of the sleep trouble is self-cause and it mostly has to do with our behavioral patterns.
Simple yet conscious change in these patterns can help you get a better sleep.
Below are some very practical and common tips that most of you would be aware of.
However, I am still writing this because they are also very powerful and very effective when it comes to combating sleep troubles.
- Eliminate alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine before bedtime.
- Avoid taking naps in the afternoon
- Exercise regularly
- Use your bed only for sleeping.
- Avoid eating or drinking fluids right before bedtime.
- Give at least 30 mins time for your system esp. the brain to wind down before going to bed to sleep.
- The most effective one of all these days is to shut your laptop and phone before hitting bed.
Personally, for me a clean well made up comfortable bed with fresh sheets and covers does the trick.
17 Helpful Sleep tips for parents with kids of all ages
Establishing bedtime rules around your expectations will make the children more disciplined. Thus, children will know when to get ready for bed. This also goes a long way in developing effective sleep habits in kids that can form a base in their adult life too. You may also want to read our very popular article 25 easy ways to teach kids good habits. Sleep is one of the most important habit.
No matter how hard it is or how relaxing it is, wake up at the same time. This helps your body adapt to a rhythm, thus having better sleep will be easy
Many children have bedtime problems and parents need to address them. If your child has these problems, communicate with them, and find a solution. Having bedtime rules alone will not suffice.
Limit screen use before your child’s bedtime, if not, this can interrupt your child’s sleep cycle. Same effect as felt in adult just magnified. We have written extensively on SCREEN ADDICTION IN KIDS – All you need to know with Tips.
All the visual inputs and all the colors of a lit Led screen one min and expecting to shut eye and slip into a blissful sleep the other. Who are we kidding?
Having a reward system can promote your child’s bedtime behavior. For example, you can buy your child chocolate or ice cream for following the bedtime rules consecutively for 3 days or more. While candies and chocolates are the most common treats we give our children. But it done not have any nutritious benefits. If you are interested to know on nutrition for kids spend some time browsing through our article All you need to know about kids’ nutrition.
And Few more…
Having more daytime activity will make it easier for your child to sleep. (Basically, your raining out their batteries so that your kids power down and slip into a peaceful sleep).If your kid is not a huge fan of playing then you can read our article on 21 simple ways to encourage your kid to play.
However high energy activity should be avoided at least an hour before bed to slow down the day gradually for your little one.
While yes, we are talking about sleep and the importance of sleep. As parents we need to be cognizant of the amount of naps your child gets during the day. Long naps are not really the solution for a good night sleep. In fact, when a child has a long nap during the day it is of little surprise that the child can go to sleep on time at night.
Having a little amount of carbohydrate-rich food such as Bananas, Yoghurt, and whole-grain crackers before sleep can promote good sleep.
Also, it is said not to dose children with sweets or chocolates. Because the glucose in sweet gives energy to the little one. Same goes with caffeine and soda if absolutely needed be given hours before sleep time. Else this will work detrimental to your agenda of putting your kid to bed.
And then a little more…
Have an early dinner and preferably not a heavy one. Preferably at around the same time every day. Sleeping with a full stomach is not the best way to get a restful sleep esp. when it is heavily oily type of food.
Have a comfortable mattress and pillows. With fresh clean sheets and made up bed. It will also help in maintain hygiene and health of the kids. If possible, sun dry them once a fortnight and fluff the pillows regularly.
Do not underestimate the power of plants. They breath in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. It is also a known fact that fresh crisp air helps in good sleep. So do have some potted plants in your kids’ room. While visible benefits are not there does not mean your kid is not benefiting.
This tip might be of a bit of surprise to you. Have your kids exposed to sunlight. Yes. You heard it right. Have kids expose to sunlight. Be is by way of outdoor play. Or a nature walk with you. When sunlight hits our eyes, a message is sent to the pineal gland in the brain and production of melatonin is shut down until the sun goes down again. Your body gets a clear signal that it is no longer night, and this helps to maintain a normal circadian rhythm. When it gets dark outside, your body gets the signal again and you feel tired and drowsy at bedtime. Interested. Want to know more read our article on 20 Astonishing benefits of sunlight for kids.
Have an optimized bedtime environment. A simple example would be soundproofing your bedroom and reducing the light around it. In short.. Make sure that the kids’ bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. With no disturbance from insects like mosquitos (in countries where this is a problem). I had a fixed environment set for my children that triggered them to sleep. I would switch off all light and have one small fairy lamp on.
Avoid drama (screening, shouting, threatening, pleading etc.) with kids before bedtime. This will stress out the kid and frustrate you also. I am sure no parent likes to see their child crying themselves to sleep. Instead prepare the right conditions (Sleep rituals) well in advance so the natural wind down process is felt by the kid and he/ she gets mentally prepared.
Have a fixed sleep ritual that can be at least 30 mins long. Like early dinner, Bit of chit chatting, changing to comfortable cloths, brushing teeth, bathroom routines, saying prayer, Getting tucked in bed, Storytime, Singing and lights off. If this is somehow managed and set, I can assure you most of your trouble to put kids to sleep will be eliminated.
I also had the habit of singing to my kids. But has one specific song which would signal to my little one that the concert is coming to an end. I would sing the same song every day as the last song. I have always seen that by the time I finish the song the little one (now teenage boys) would go to sleep.
Additional Tip: Bottom line. your kids follow you. You and your life are the main guidebook that they refer to. You need to be conscious about it.
Trying to wake your kid up at 7 in the morning when one parent sleeps till 10 AM. (Exceptions are always there. I meant sleeps regularly till 10 AM). Same goes with sleep schedules in the night. Bedtime for kids at 8 PM while one or both parent stays wake till 1 PM. Will set a bad example.
The fundamental thing that you as a parent will have to understand is that kids fight sleep.
Remember it is not because they are burdened by the troubles of the world. But because they find the environment stimulation and they do not want to miss out.
So, going to sleep when the rest of the household is awake and active is not a pleasant thing to do and hence, they resist it.
Think about it. If the whole family follows a healthy sleep schedule and lights are off by a certain time and each one tucked in their bed. Do you really think your kid will fight and resist sleep? He / She will be off in a light in no time. And you really need not do anything about it.
Note: The side bonus is the whole family will be refreshed, bright and fresh the next day. Giving more relaxed, peaceful, and happy environment for everyone.
After being subjected to a terrible sleep schedule, getting on the right track can be challenging. Nevertheless, consistency is the key to having a better sleep for you and your child. (be it school days or weekends or holidays).
Whatever be the situation right now at your home. Take it on yourself not to compromise for the sake of your child’s health and wellbeing in the long run and make a conscious effort to try to adhere to sleep routines.
We hope this blog along with the sleep tips has been helpful to you.
If so, show us love by sharing it with your friends and loved ones so together we can make the world a better place one step at a time.
If you have any other idea or tip to effectively get your child to sleep. Do Help us and other parents by sharing with us in your comments below.