Children (toddlers and above) need at least 9-12 hours of sleep, depending on their age. Good quality sleep is necessary for their physical, mental and emotional development. Did you know that your children’s body makes growth hormones during sleep? If their body lacks this hormone, their developmental milestones may get delayed.
If your children often have trouble going to sleep or wake up groggy and moody, it is time to look for the reasons. Some of the factors that can disrupt your children’s sleep are stated below:
Poor Bedtime Routine
Children like consistent and predictable routines. However, a disrupted bedtime schedule can disturb your children’s sleep cycle.
Make sure your children are well-fed and preferably, even bathed before sleep. Inculcate a habit of reading a paperback storybook or listening to soft instrumental music when you tuck them into the bed. Switch off the main lights except for a dim light or a table lamp if they feel uncomfortable with darkness. Make them do all these activities at the same time every day at night. Of course, you can skip the routine on some special nights but the exceptions should be very few.
Screen Time Before Bedtime
If your child has a habit of watching content on mobile phones or television or playing video games before bedtime, it can interfere with their sleep. The blue light from digital device screens stimulates the brain and blocks the melatonin hormone production necessary to fall asleep.
Limit the screen time of your children, especially at least 1-2 hours before sleep. Keep all the digital devices out of their bedroom. You should also do the same to serve as role models for your children.
Keep at least 2-3 hours of gap between your children’s dinner time and sleep time. Avoid giving them fried, junk, processed, heavy, spicy or carbohydrate-rich foods in the night mealtimes. Don’t let them eat sweets or drink sugary, fizzy and caffeinated drinks.
Physical or Mental Activities
Any form of rigorous exercise or physical activity can overstimulate your children’s body and mind. Similarly, if they have a habit of completing their homework or assignments just before going to sleep, it can put their brains into active mode. Try to get your children to finish all their play or homework early in the evening.
Your children can also have trouble falling asleep if there is too much light or noise in the room. The room’s temperature – too hot or too cold can also affect sleep. Keep the room dark enough (except the night lamp), noise-free and clutter-free. Get them cosy with light or warm blankets as per the season or room’s temperature.
Try these tips to improve your children’s sleep patterns. If their sleep quality remains a concern or they are facing nightmares or any other medical symptoms, then you should consult a paediatrician.
Sleep habits are a lifestyle change and your children can easily adapt to it with consistent discipline.