Written by Gissia Castelnoble, Child and Adolescent Psychologist (B.A. Psych., Dip of Child and Adolescent Psych., Dip of Couns, M.Ed. Psych, MAPS)
Adequate sleep can boost your child's mood, sharpen their concentration, and enhance their learning and behaviours. It is essential to encourage good sleep habits from an early age.
Ensuring your child gets enough sleep is paramount. Children between the ages of 3 to 5 should receive 10 to 13 hours of sleep, including naps. Children aged 6 to 12 require approximately 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night, while teenagers aged 13 to 18 should aim for 8 to 10 hours each night. Establishing healthy sleep habits early on can help your child cope adequately with stressors such as schoolwork and friendships.
Sleep hygiene can significantly impact children’s mental health and overall development. Poor sleep hygiene can lead to various sleep-related issues, such as difficulty falling asleep or frequent waking at night. An example of poor sleep hygiene is allowing children to use electronic devices like iPads before bedtime, which can disrupt their natural sleep patterns. By establishing healthy sleep habits and routines, parents can help ensure their children get the restful, restorative sleep they need to thrive.
Creating a consistent routine can help your child fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It is essential to establish a calming routine that signals their body and mind to wind down for the night. Consistency is critical when it comes to maintaining good sleep hygiene. It takes time, patience, and dedication to establish effective sleep-promoting habits. With persistence and repetition, you can ensure your child gets the restful and restorative sleep their body needs to function at its best.
You can tailor a bedtime routine that is around 20 minutes long and consists of three to four calming activities. Follow the same bedtime each night and incorporate activities such as listening to a relaxation app or reading a book together. Children should stop using digital technology an hour before bedtime because artificial blue light can harm developing brains. Exposure to blue light during the day from natural sources like sunlight or other sources can boost energy and concentration.
Additionally, studies have demonstrated that exposure to natural blue light during the day can enhance the quality and duration of sleep. However, electronic devices emitting artificial blue light in the evening and at night disrupt children's natural sleep-wake cycle by deceiving the brain into not producing melatonin (sleep hormone) before bedtime. Excessive use of artificial blue light can result in children having high energy levels at night.
If your child has trouble falling or staying asleep despite following a healthy sleep routine, they might have a sleep disorder. For more information, check out this link
CHOC Children – Sleep Hygiene for Children
How Blue Light Affects Kids’ Sleep
Sleep tips for children