Sleep is arguably the most important process we go through every single day in order to help us develop and grow into strong, healthy adults.
A lot of the time when you have kids you might find it a little bit challenging to get the kids to sleep, and even know how much sleep they need.
How much sleep does your child need?
The first question you need to ask yourself is how many hours of sleep your child needs each night. This will of course depend on their age, because children need more sleep when they are younger and less as they grow, but generally you will see this trend:
- Newborns to 3 months – babies this young will not have a regular sleeping schedule so it will largely be naps throughout the day as well as sleeping at night. Ideally they need around 16 hours a day of sleep.
- 4 to 11 months – this is the point where your child will start to sleep through the whole night but also nap in the day, this will need around 12 hours of sleep each day.
- 1 to 2 years – toddlers will need between 11-14 hours of sleep a day, it can vary from child to child but most of the sleep will occur at night at this age.
- 3 to 5 years – 11-13 hours is the ideal amount of sleep, naps will not happen as often at this age.
- 6 to 13 years – at this age your child will no longer nap and will need around 10 hours of sleep
- 14 and up – the same as adults, these children need 8-10 hours a day however due to puberty they may find it harder to fall asleep
Why is sleep so important?
Sleep is a fundamental process which happens in the body every night and allows the body to rest and recover from the day. It is during the night that our food is metabolised and nutrients are used to repair bone, muscles and flush out toxins. It is a time where our brain can rest and reset, and our body can relax ready to begin again the next day.
It is a fact that children who get more sleep develop into healthier adults and are less likely to make bad decisions in their lives. It might sound a little odd but the importance of sleep in children is like eating. They, and we, need sleep to survive and to thrive. It can help memory and allow them to do better at school, fight off colds by boosting the immune system and help them to stay fit and healthy. It is also a great stress buster for many, and can combat the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
What can you do?
Now that you know exactly how much sleep your children need and how sleep can affect their lives, it is time for you to take some action to make it easier for your children to sleep.
Set a nap time
It can be difficult when you have a young child to keep up with how much sleep they get each day, because of this it is important to make yourself a sleep schedule which they can stick to as well as add in time for naps during the day. A good time to incorporate a nap into the day is just after lunch time or early afternoon. Don’t leave it too late to let the kids nap because this can affect their ability to fall asleep later on. You also need to make sure naps are only 30 minutes long because this can also affect their ability to sleep through the night.
Limit technology before bed
At night time your brain needs some time to relax before you are ready to fall asleep. Ideally you want to be turning off any mobile device an hour before you plan to go to sleep, and also make sure you keep the light in the home soft and dim such as candles and a small lamp. Your brain needs darkness and calm in order to get ready for sleep, so ask your children to turn off any devices an hour before bed. But make sure that you practice what you preach because it will be greatly beneficial to you as well.
Settle their body clock
You need to start from a young age when making a schedule for your kids to sleep. They need to get used to sleeping at a certain time in the afternoon and then a certain time at night. Practice a solid bedtime with your children and make sure that they stick to it. This can be more difficult if you are on holiday and you can stretch the rules a little bit in this instance as long as they still have the same amount of sleep overall each night. Make sure though that as soon as you get home you stick to the same routine because this can confuse their body clock and distrust their sleep.
Get them exercising
An important factor in the sleeping pattern of anyone at any age is the amount of exercise they do during the day. If your child seems to struggle sleeping regularly you might want to think about how much moving around they do during the day. By incorporating games and hiking into your weekends and then exercises during the week, you will tire the kids out and this will help them fall asleep.
Cut down on the caffeine
It’s not just coffee which contains caffeine, it is also present in tea, green tea, soda and energy drinks. Ideally you want your kids not to be drinking caffeine at all because it isn’t great for their sleeping pattern, but the odd soda here and there is ok as long as you keep it to a minimum.
Create a relaxing space
The broom should be a place in the house which is full of relaxation and comfort. You and your child need a place which is comfortable and dark in order to help you sleep well. You can buy luxury beds for children and also decorate the space with cushions and throws to add to that cosy feel. As for the curtains you want to go for blackout curtains to make the room as dark as possible to aid sleep.
Know When your child is tired
It is important that you monitor your kids and their sleeping pattern to know when things need to be addressed. If you have to drag them out of bed every morning and they are fatigued during the day, they need more sleep. Try implementing some of the tips above and if this doesn’t do anything you may want to consult a doctor for advice.