Sleep for your school aged child is very important. When your child sleeps well, he’s more settled, happy and ready for school the next day. It also helps with behavior, learning, concentration and it can boost their immune system. It also helps them grow. Did you know that children’s bodies produce growth hormones when they’re asleep?
How much sleep does my child need?
- A child aged 5-8 yrs need about 10-11 hours of sleep per night.
- A child aged 9-11 yrs will need about 9-11 hours of sleep per night.
How can I help my child sleep better?
There are a few things you can do to establish good sleeping habits and help your child sleep better and longer:
- Keep sleep regular. In order to set or maintain your child’s internal clock, it’s a good idea to keep bedtime and morning wake up time the same, even on weekends and holidays.
- Have a consistent bedtime routine. A bedtime routine helps encourage good sleep patterns and gets them ready for sleep. It doesn’t have to be complicated but it should be a series of things that you do every night, preferable around the same time each night. For an older child, this might include time to read a book, write in a journal or a chat with you about their day.
- Do some relaxing activities with your child before bed. Some time to wind down before bed lets them relax and be ready to go to sleep. This can include some breathing exercises or yoga.
- Make sure their environment is conducive to sleep. It should be dark, cool, quiet and free of distractions.
- Turn off tech at least 90 minutes before bed. This includes TV’s, phones, tablets, computers, video game systems, etc. Remove any of these from your child’s room. The blue light that is emitted from these devices can actually stop the production of melatonin which is important in helping us fall asleep and having a good night’s sleep.
- Avoid caffeine. Things that contain caffeine like coffee, tea, cola and chocolate should be avoided in the later afternoon/evening as it can give them an unwanted boost in energy before bed and make it that much harder for them to fall asleep.
If after all of these changes your child is still struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep or if they seem overly tired in the morning, it’s a good idea to check in with a doctor. This may signify something is affecting your child’s sleep, like sleep apnea. This is especially a concern if your child snores, breathes through their mouth, tosses and turns a lot during the night or sweats excessively overnight. A doctor can help make the appropriate diagnosis and referrals to ensure that there isn’t something else affecting your child’s sleep.
As with all things, make sure you remain consistent with any changes you make. It can take tine them to adjust to a new way of doing things, but it will pay off in the end when they are star sleepers.