Sleep is important for everyone, but getting a good night’s rest is even more essential for kids, as it directly impacts their mental and physical development. One of the best ways to help your child get the proper sleep he needs for optimal health and growth is to create and maintain a bedtime routine.
Create a Bedtime Routine
A bedtime routine helps your child transition from an alert state to one that is calm and drowsy. By practicing the same rituals each night, you’re showing your child that his bedroom is a safe, nurturing space so that he feels comfortable and secure, which helps trigger the brain to produce the sleep hormone known as Melatonin.
Without a bedtime routine, your child may not get the quality rest he needs, which can negatively affect health in a number of ways. Children who don’t get enough sleep have health problems like allergies and infections as well as social and emotional problems. Inadequate sleep is even linked to obesity and diabetes as well as being a significant factor in developing depression or anxiety. Irregular bedtimes negatively impact cognitive development, with subjects scoring significantly lower scores on reading, math and spatial awareness, according to a 2013 study conducted by the ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health at University College London. Consistent bedtimes can mean better grades, better health, and even greater happiness for both you and your child.
Consistency is Key
Help your child get in the good habit of following the same routine each evening before bed. Bedtime should be consistent, whether it’s a weekday, weekend, or holiday. No matter what the specific rituals, in the last 30 to 60 minutes before bed, rigorous activities should be avoided, and the same activities should be performed in the same order each night.
Educate your children about proper hygiene during this time. For example, they might begin winding down by taking a bath as well as brushing their teeth, flossing, washing their face, and for older kids, removing contact lenses. Sleeping in contacts can lead to infection. Those who sleep in their lenses are prone to contracting conjunctivitis, E-coli, or sties on the eyelids, notes Vision Direct. These issues can be prevented by ensuring that your child washes their hands before they handle their lenses, remove lenses before showering and ensure that he uses fresh solution in the lens case each night.
After practicing good hygiene, the final ritual of the night might be reading a bedtime story together or participating in self-soothing activities like talking or cuddling. After conducting this same routine each night, your child will know that bedtime is coming and that he needs to go to sleep. This consistent bedtime routine will benefit your child’s learning abilities and development in the future.
What to Avoid Before Bedtime
Many children stay glued to the television or computer right up until it’s time to go to sleep, but the bright light that electronics emit can harm their ability to fall asleep. This is because sleep patterns depend on light as well as hormones. When it begins to get dark out at the end of a day, the pineal gland produces melatonin, which begins to trigger sleepiness. Exposure to bright light emitted by a screen, no matter how big or small, including the television, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, stops the production of melatonin, preventing sleep. This means no screen time, including talking on the phone, for at least 60 minutes before going to bed.