A growing body of research suggests a strong connection between the quality of sleep, good mental health, and school achievement in kids and teenagers. Sleep plays a vital role in the way children learn and develop – well-rested children are refreshed, healthier, and more successful at school and sports.
Good bedtime habits impact a child’s memory, emotions, behavior, problem-solving skills, and executive function. Helping your child fall asleep will instill healthy sleep habits and teach them about the importance of healthy sleep patterns.
Younger kids need between 15 (infants) to 12 hours of sleep while school-age kids need between nine and eleven hours of sleep each night. One study on parents of 10th-12th graders revealed that the amount of sleep affects the students’ school grades – according to their parents, teenagers who had the least amount of sleep were also the ones with the lowest grades at school.
Research also shows that poor quality of sleep caused by interrupted sleep during the night can be linked to mood swings, challenging behaviors, poor attention, and lower school performance.
Good quality sleep will boost your child’s memory and concentration, improve their mood, enhance emotional control, prevent or alleviate mood swings, and improve their overall well-being. Finally, studies show that good sleep prevents challenging behaviors and helps your child go to school refreshed and well-prepared.
How to Help Your Child Fall Asleep
Sleep is essential for the development of your child’s brain, as well as for their mental and physical development. The sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythms) is regulated by light and dark and they develop as the child grows. Some kids even seem to get a renewed burst of energy right before bedtime, which can be frustrating and exhausting for parents.
So, here are a few tips on how to help your child fall asleep and build a healthy bedtime routine.
Have a Wind-Down Time at Night
Having a relaxing routine before bed can help your child calm down and fall asleep easier. Unwinding routine can involve anything from a relaxing, warm bath, a time to draw, quiet chat about how his/her day went, to a bedtime story.
Play Calming Music
Soothing music is a great way to help your child fall asleep. Studies show that quiet lullaby music helps kids relax and quiet both their minds and bodies before they fall asleep. Why? Because music directly affects our hormones. Listening to calming music will decrease levels of cortisol in your child’s body (a stress hormone), at the same time increasing melatonin (a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle).
Replace Screen Time with Books
Spending time in front of the illuminated screen (smartphone, tablet, television) before bedtime can seriously affect your child’s ability to fall asleep. Stick to the books instead and read to your child prior to going to bed (for younger kids) or encourage them to read on their own (school-age kids and teenagers). Make sure to turn off any electronics at least an hour before bed. Be a good role model and limit your own media use. Interact with your kids face-to-face before bed instead.
Create a Relaxing Atmosphere
Make your child’s room a pleasant and cozy place. Tone down the lights in the evening to allow your child’s body to naturally produce melatonin that will help them fall asleep.
Smart Parent Advice‘s article breaks down exactly how much sleep is normal at different ages and development stages.
Take care and keep healthy and positive,