Ample sleep is very important for the overall functioning of the human body. As such, your kid should sleep enough. But how much of it is enough?
Well, the total number of hours that a child should sleep depends on his or her age. Kids aged between:
- 1 to 4 weeks old should sleep for 15 to 16 hours per day
- 1 to 12 months ought to sleep for 14 to 15 hours per day
- 1 to 3 years should sleep for 12 to 14 hours per day
- 3 to 6 years should sleep for 10 to 12 hours every day
- 7 to 12 years should sleep for 10 to 11 hours every day
- 12 to 18 years ought to sleep for 8 to 9 hours per day
In case your child sleeps for hours that are less than the recommended ones in respect to his or her age, he/she is at higher risk of various health issues such as obesity and common colds as compared to a child who gets enough sleep.
Nevertheless, don’t worry much if your kid doesn’t get enough. In this article, you are going to see an array of techniques to make your little one sleep sufficiently.
1. Create a bedtime routine
There are some activities that if done routinely before bedtime, particularly 15-30 minutes before bedtime, your kid can associate them with sleep. When such things occur or are done to the child, his or her mind starts to prepare to get to sleep. Some of the routine activities that you can consider for your child include:
- Bathing the child
- Wearing pajamas on the child
- Asking the child to brush his/her teeth or assist him/her do so
- Have a small storytelling session with the child
- Kissing the child goodnight
If you make these activities a habit before every bedtime, your child will pick them as signs of an approaching bedtime. Remember to be consistent in these activities to make them effective in preparing your little one to sleep.
2. Encourage regular daytime physical exercises
When a kid gets tired as a result of physical exercises done during the day, it becomes easy for him or her to fall asleep at night. As such, let your kid play with his or her peers or if alone, encourage the physical exercises that he/she can do on his own. You can even take part in them as a way of encouragement. Nevertheless, it’s important that the kid remains calm with minimal physical exercises within three hours before bedtime to prevent overstimulation that could hinder sleep when it’s required at night.
3. Minimize stress before bedtime
If your kid takes long before falling asleep after going to bed, cortisol hormone which is also called “stress hormone” could be responsible for the delay. The hormone is usually activated when the body is quite active as a result of excessive physical exercises, noises or bright lights, among other conditions. To reduce prevent an excessive amount of the hormone in your kid’s body, prevent these causative conditions. Ensure that the lights in your house are dim, reduce the volume of your TV/radio or any other sound gadget in your house and let the kid remain calm for about three hours before the scheduled bedtime. If you can, install room-darkening shades to reduce light in your kid’s bedroom and living room.
4. Find a way of instilling a sense of safety
Some children fear to sleep alone at night, and the fear might make them stay awake for the better part of the night. If your child is a victim of this fear, you need to find a way of instilling a sense of safety in him or her. Constant assurance that there’s no danger at all in sleeping alone in a room might go a long way in making the child less fearful. Encourage him or her to be brave and reward and praise him/her whenever she/she shows bravery, especially during bedtime.
Also, you should try as much as you can to ensure that the child doesn’t watch scary TV shows or movies or play frightening computer games until he/she gets the courage to sleep alone without sleep-interrupting fears. If the kid is afraid of the dark(this is a common fear among many young children), have his/her room always slightly lit during bedtime. Remember we said that too much light could promote sleeplessness.
5. Increase daytime’s natural light exposure
Melatonin is a hormone that is involved in the regulation of the sleeping and waking cycles. High levels of the hormones promote sleep while low level makes a person to be mentally alert and active, hence minimal possibility of falling asleep. When your child is alert and active during the daytime, there are high chances that they’ll have a deep sleep at night.
Exposure to plenty of natural light decreases melatonin production, signaling the body to prepare to be awake. Therefore, it’s important that you encourage the child to get outside especially during the morning hours for maximum possible natural light exposure. If you live in a house that allows a lot of natural light to get in, the better as you’ll only be drawing the window curtains aside.
6. Prevent the child from getting too full at bedtime
While an empty stomach can make a person roll in bed all night long without getting even an hour of sleep, being too full can also make it difficult for your child to fall asleep. Besides, it can disrupt the normal sleep pattern as the body remains active while digesting the food. Therefore, avoid giving the kid heavy meals within three hours before bedtime. If the kid wants to eat something within the period, let it be a light snack such as yoghurt, banana or low-sugar cereal.
7. Avoid greasy, sweet or spicy foods near bedtime
Greasy, sweet or spicy foods can cause sleep disruptions or difficulty in falling asleep/ getting back to sleep if taken near bedtime. Other foodstuffs that can also cause these sleep issues include bacon, cheese, caffeinated drinks, sugary foods, and tomatoes, among others. If your child tends to eat these foods, it’s high time you remove them from his/her near-bedtime snacks to promote a smooth sleep pattern.
Having implemented the above tips, there’s a very high possibility that your child will be able to sleep well.