Sleep Hygiene – How to Encourage Good Habits + Healthy Routines

Bedtime finally rolls around. You’ve been reminding your kids the past hour or so but you hear the dreaded words “I’m not tired!” While this can partially just be kids being kids, consider the importance of things to rule out that could be keeping your kids awake at night.

Sleep Needs

While there is no “one size fits all” answer, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends the below:

  • Infants 4 to 12 months – 12-16 hours of sleep, including naps
  • Children 1 to 2 years – 11-14 hours of sleep, including naps
  • Children 3 to 5 years – 10-13 hours of sleep, including naps
  • Children 6 to 12 years – 9-12 hours of sleep
  • Teenagers 13 to 18 years – 8-10 hours of sleep

Exercise

The more energy extended throughout the day, the better the chances kids have falling asleep at night time. Playing outside, or joining sports clubs or teams are not only great ways to socialize but also at “wearing kids out” before bedtime rolls around. Exercise right before bed, however, should be avoided as the heat from warm muscles can prevent children from falling asleep.

Technology

Reminder – this goes for us adults too! Televisions, mobile phones, computers and more emit blue light that suppresses hormones that make the body sleepy. Encourage other nighttime activities, such as listening to music quietly or reading. It’s a good habit to turn off all screen at least an hour before bedtime. Encourage books, art, games, or music to unwind before the kiddo’s head to their rooms to catch their zzzzz’s.

Food + Caffeine

A full tummy sounds good in theory, however, a big meal right before bed can prevent effective sleep. Try to eat meals relatively early to give the body time to begin the digestive process. Also, foods high in sugar can not only be bad choices for teeth, but can affect blood sugar which can result in trouble staying asleep. Of course, avoid any caffeine from sodas, chocolates, coffees or teas as well.

Routine

There is no right or wrong way to establish a proper bedtime routine, but the most important factor is to start it early. It’s difficult to encourage good sleep habits with a cranky toddler or young child who’s set in their ways! A good bedtime routine should be around 10-15 minutes, but the more consistent you are with it, the better results you’ll have! Consider a warm bath and books before bed, as well as white noise, black-out shades, and a soft night light to help set the bedroom mood. Essential oils in a diffuser can help, too!

As many of you know, Doctor Staci often brushes and flosses her kids’ teeth in the bedroom during the nighttime routine. Two birds, one stone peeps! Parenting survival tips and healthy teeth habits all in one!

Good luck parents, you got this!

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