Next week, Work/Life, HCC, and RFC will hold the first ever Sleep Transformation challenge for SAS employees and their adult family members. As part of a series of blogs on sleep by the Work/Life staff, today’s topic is Children and Sleep.
Like adults, many children do not get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 30% of children under 11 don't get enough sleep. Even though young kids should go to bed between 6 and 8 p.m., up to half of preschoolers and 64% of elementary age children go to bed after 9 p.m. (1)
Are you concerned your child isn't getting enough sleep? There are guidelines available on the internet or from your pediatrician, but I am also going to share some tips to help make sure your little one is getting enough zzzzzs.
1- Set a good example by unplugging from electronics at least an hour before bed.
2- Establish a set bedtime and a bedtime routine and stick with it-- even on weekends! A good routine includes unplugging at least an hour before bed, a light snack, a relaxing bath, putting on comfy PJs, brushing teeth, reading a story, hugs, and kisses and then leaving the room before your child falls asleep.
3- Set up your child's room for optimal sleep: black out shades, white noise machine or app, a cool and a comfortable temperature (68-72 degrees is best).
Sometimes parents make the mistake of having their child stay up later to prevent them from waking up really early (before 6 a.m.). Other parents confuse the "wired" child at bedtime as a sign that bedtime needs to be delayed. Actually, the opposite is true. When kids are sleep-deprived (just like adults), their bodies release hormones, like adrenaline, that give them a "second wind" at bedtime. Try putting your child to bed earlier, before they start "bouncing off the walls". You and your child will both sleep better.
Still not convinced? Ask yourself this... is your toddler or preschooler fun to be around between 4 and 6 p.m.? Is your school age child alert and playful between 5 and 7 p.m.? If you would describe your child more as "irritable" than as "delightful", an earlier bedtime is indicated. One expert on children and sleep suggests putting your child to bed 20 min earlier for a few nights and see how it goes. If he or she falls asleep easier, you have your answer!
Still concerned? Research shows that 37% of school-age children can have sleep-related problems. Don't hesitate to call your pediatrician and contact Work/Life for a referral if you are still concerned.