Sleeping for at least 9 hours every night is necessary for children and adolescents, as lack of sleep can have a negative impact on a child’s health, performance and behaviour. There are many problems a child might have to deal with when she doesn’t get enough sleep. Some of them are behaviour and mood problems, poor performance at school and other activities and problems related to learning and concentration.
In some cases, sleep problems are related to other health issues, so if a child shows sighs such as snoring, breathing problems, insomnia, waking up during the night, bedwetting or restless sleep, you should contact your paediatrician.
In many cases though, poor sleep or lack of sleep are related to factors that don’t have to do with a child’s health condition. Such might be a child’s unwillingness to go to bed at night, or the absence of a night routine, a bad diet or even something that causes stress to a child.
In this case, there are a lot of things we, as parents, can do to help our child relax and have a good night sleep.
These are 5 tips to improve your child’s sleep.
- Create a bedtime routine. A relaxing bedtime routine can help a child maintain a good sleep pattern. The routine should start at the same time every night and the activities which you will decide to incorporate should always be done in the same order. Avoid activities that increase energy, such as playing or eating. Instead, chose activities that will help your child calm down and realise that it is time to sleep, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book or softly singing a lullaby.
- Create a nice and safe environment for your child to sleep in. If a room is dirty or untidy, too hot or too cold, or if it doesn’t feel safe to a child, this will definitely affect the quality of the child’s sleep.
- For at least one hour before bedtime, keep your child away from the television, the computer, the mobile phone and other electronic devices. Such activities, right before bedtime can be harmful to a child and are often related to sleep anxiety and other sleep problems.
- Diet. As any other health related issue, diet is really important and can affect a child’s quality of sleep. Make sure your child follows a healthy diet and avoid food or drinks which contain sugar or caffeine before bedtime. Also, avoid large or heavy meals close to bedtime.
- Keep the communication channels open and try to know what’s going on in your child’s life. Children often go through problems or stressful situations that parents know nothing about. It is extremely important for a child to be able to share these problems and situations with her parents, so as to feel safe and reassured. This can take away a child’s stress and not only improve the quality of sleep, but of her whole life as well.