Parenting In Focus: Sleep is more important than you think it is

  • Wednesday, October 27, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

Sleep matters, and not just for the amount a child learns and for her emotional stability. It may also be related to obesity and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Some scientists believe that sleep problems during the early years can cause permanent changes in a child’s brain structure (“Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children,” Sleepforkids.org).

The issue of sleep is getting more attention than it has in the past. The important part for parents of young children is to have their child in bed so that he gets the required amount of sleep he needs.

The director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion says that “sufficient sleep is not a luxury — it is a necessity — and should be thought of as a vital sign of good health.”

How much sleep should your child get daily?

Age Hours of Sleep

0-2 months — 10.5–18

2-12 months — 14-15

1-3 years — 12-14

3-5 years — 11-13

5-12 years — 10-11

Healthy habits

Children need and thrive on routines. The No. 1 tip for good sleeping habits is to follow a nightly routine. A bedtime ritual makes it easier for your child to relax, fall asleep and sleep through the night.

A typical bedtime routine could include a routine like below:

• Have a night snack

• Take a bath

• Put on pajamas

• Brush teeth

• Read a story or two

• Make sure the room is quiet and at a comfortable temperature

• Put your child into bed

• Say “goodnight” and leave

Do the same routine each night so your child will get used to it. The routine you set up for putting your child to bed makes a huge difference.

Make bedtime the same time each night. Make bedtime a positive and relaxing experience without TV or videos. According to one recent study, TV viewing prior to bed can lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep.

Save your child’s favorite relaxing, non-stimulating activities until last and have them occur in your child’s bedroom.

When this routine become relaxing to your child you are sure to feel the relaxing for yourself.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. For more information, email to info@firstteacher.org or call 360-681-2250.

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