Sleep is more important now that ever. Coping skills are more effective when a child’s body is rested and their schedule is consistent. A cranky, over active child or teenager suggests a lack of sleep. Keeping the families’ school time routine intact during the current stay at home mandate will make your days less frantic and thereby more productive. The stress emanating from a multitude eof lifestyle changes is best handled by both parent and child after a good night’s sleep.
Elementary school age children require 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Expect 15 to 30 minutes of restlessness until your child falls asleep. Begin preparing for bed soon after dinner. Cut off electronic games, computer use and TV one hour prior to bedtime. Minimize exercise, outdoor play and/or dance in the evenings as they trigger an adrenaline surge which interrupts falling asleep. Stop caffeine drinks at least five hours before bedtime. Once in bed, allow one excuse to leave the bed whether to give a parent a kiss, run to the bathroom or get a drink. Afterwards, do not respond to pleas to get out of bed. Parents cannot make a child go to sleep but you can make them stay in bed. Calming activities like reading or use of a meditation APP for soothing sounds or music can set the mood for restful sleep. Time for bed should stay the same even while homeschooling. Children will have less trouble going to sleep and waking in the morning if the bedtime routine stays the same.
Adolescents need the same limits on electronics, exercise and caffeine as younger children in order to maintain good sleep patterns. By their teenage years, sleep needs decrease slightly to 9 hours. Of course, teens have more control over bedtime. It may take 20 to 30 minutes for teens to fall asleep. Their sleep-wake cycle is altered during puberty. Teens will stay up late and sleep later resulting in grumpy, moody students with poor attention and memory. Encourage your teen to make it a routine to go to bed around the same time and rise at the same time. They will still sleep until noon on the weekend. That may never change.
Sleep is integral to keeping your body healthy. It’s one line of defense that you as a parent can build for your child. Bedtime is fundamental to insuring sound sleep.
Recommended hours of sleep by age:
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
- School-aged Children (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Teenagers (14-17 years): 8-10 hours
The AAP recommends that all babies are placed on their back to go to sleep to prevent SIDS.