A healthy sleep routine for children is vital for their health, development, and well-being. It helps them stay healthy, grow, learn, and do well in school. Sleep physically restores the body and improves brain function and mental health. Children of all ages need to get enough sleep to play, learn and concentrate during the day.
Symptoms of a lack of sleep in children
Sleep problems are some of the most common issues faced by parents. When children don’t get enough rest, physical, behavioural, cognitive (mental), and emotional symptoms can occur over some time.
Learning and memory
- Reduced academic performance
- Lack of concentration and focus
- Increased forgetfulness and poorer memory
- Difficulty learning new information
Physical growth and activity
- Decrease in muscle development and repair of cells and tissue
- Lack of interest and motivation to exercise
- Stunts’ average growth
- Higher levels of obesity
- Weakened immune system
- Children get sick more often
- Sleepiness during the day
- Increased impulsivity
- Higher risk of accidents
- More hyperactive
- Irritability and moodiness
- Increased stress
- A decline in mental health
How to build healthy sleep routines
Research shows that children who follow bedtime routines are more likely to sleep earlier, take less time falling asleep, rest longer, and wake up less during the night.
A bedtime routine for children
- Eat dinner
- Take a bath
- Brush teeth
- Put on pajamas
- Read a book
To make the routine even more effective, start winding down the household by dimming the lights and turning off screens in the lead-up to bed. The blue light from television and other electronic devices keeps the mind engaged, making it harder to be calm before bedtime.
Try to keep evening snacks light and healthy. Caffeine will keep children awake, and snacks or drinks high in sugar or carbohydrates may make it more difficult for a child to fall asleep. Sugary snacks or drinks before bed can also lead to cavities.
Calculate how much time your child should be sleeping and start the bedtime routine 45 minutes to an hour before the child needs to fall asleep. Stick to this schedule on the weekends, particularly with younger children.
Daily guidelines for healthy sleep by age
- Babies 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours
- Children 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours
- Children 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours
- Teens: 8 to 10 hours
- Adults: 7 to 8 hours
When should I take my child to the doctor?
Daily good sleep is critical to your child’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Being consistent with good bedtime habits will pay off for years to come.
If you are struggling with your child’s sleeping patterns, book an appointment with your doctor to ensure no underlying causes and get helpful advice for a good night’s rest.