What is Sleep Hygiene? And Why is it Important?
Sleep hygiene is the term that we use to describe having good sleep habits, associations and schedules. It is so important to work on these aspects of sleep from a young age so that as your children grow so does they continue to be able to get the sleep that their bodies need. As parents we need to coach, guide and teach our children how to have good sleep hygiene in the same way you would teach them how to have good physical hygiene. At a young age you don’t trust your children to brush their teeth well enough, wash their hair correctly etc… As they get older you let them take on these tasks with supervision and then eventually let them take over the care needs of their own bodies.
Similarly, we encourage parents to work through sleep hygiene with their kids. In “The Importance of Routine” I explain how to work through a good, predictable routine for toddlers and younger children. Parents who are able to establish a clear routine have children who know what to expect when bedtime rolls around and are less lightly to resist their bedtime wind down.
As children age we want to hand over some of the reins regarding their bedtime routines. This is where a coaching roll may come in handy. I tell my oldest daughter that bedtime is at 7:30. We discuss things that need to be done before bed and I hang around to make sure she stays on task. She is able to execute many of her bedtime routine tasks on her own. At 7 years old, I still expect that I need to have a roll with her routine.
What is in your bedtime routine?
Once she shows that she is better able to initiate as a parent my roll will be to continue to encourage good sleep habits and age appropriate bedtimes.
Good Sleep Habits and Associations
- Limit tech before bed
- Establish age appropriate ways to wind down (read books, colour, chat about the day)
- Follow a similar routine that sends your body signals that it is time to go to bed
- Limit clutter in the bedroom so your mind can focus on the task at hand
- Limit amount of time spent in bedroom not sleeping – ideally you want your body to associate that place with sleep. This can be particularly challenging with teens
Age Appropriate bedtimes
- Based on wake time and on the age of the child. School age children need 9-12 hours of sleep per night.
- Teens need about 8-10 hours of sleep per night (https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/healthy_sleep_for_your_baby_and_child)