Consistent Bedtime Could Be Good for Kids' Health
Sleep issues can oftentimes a concern for both parents and their children alike.
Anxiety over sleeping patterns generally begin when children are infants and continue as they age. Oftentimes, as research indicated, a consistent bedtime may not only be good for parents' sanity, but for kids' health as well.
New parents are faced with infants that generally have their days and nights mixed up, resulting in a lack of sleep for parents. Then the tides generally turn, and it's the children who are getting less sleep -- begging parents to stay up longer and creating excuses about why they're not ready to snuggle under the covers.
According to Lauren Hale, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University Medical Center in Stony Brook, New York, a child's bedtime routine can affect his or her sleep pattern throughout a lifetime.
"Sleep patterns and sleep routines matter because they have both long-term and short-term implications for health and cognitive development," Hales says.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that infants and toddlers need on average 12 to 14 hours of sleep daily, which is a combination of nighttime rest and additional naps. Even children up to age 12 should get 10 or 11 hours of sleep. Developing a set bedtime for children early on and creating a bedtime routine can help children anticipate sleep and get the rest they need.
Creating a Bedtime Routine
1. Determine the time when you notice children becoming out of sorts and tired. Make this time the daily bedtime.
2. An hour before bedtime, limit television watching or other stimulating activities.
3. Think about soothing activities. Consider reading a book or singing a lullaby to younger children. Allowing an hour of quiet reading or music for older children could work, too.
4. A warm bath can help put children in a restful state as well.
5. Be consistent with the bedtime. Don't allow kids to pressure you into staying up longer.
6. Avoid sugary snacks or caffeinated products for kids before bedtime; they can become even more wired.
7. Try to schedule the household activities so they don't infringe on bedtime.
8. Children should fall asleep when tired. Keeping a child up late will not necessarily help them sleep better or longer. In fact, an overtired child could take longer to settle down and awaken during the night.
9. Parents should use the time when kids are in bed to rest themselves, enjoy time together or simply enjoy the quiet.
Similarly, a consistent waking time for children also develops good sleeping habits. The same can be said for adults. Going to bed and waking at consistent times each day enables the body to prepare for rest and is good for general health.