Tips to help your child sleep better

By Island Hospital   |   Mar 10, 2021 4:42:48 PM

When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, many people are quick to list down healthy eating and exercise; but neglect having good sleep. The same also applies for children. The average child is busy with school, with their friends, their hobbies and homework. Even if their bodies feel fine, their brains require sleep.

To meet the needs of each day, your child requires sleep. Sleep is important for children as inadequate rest can impact their attention, behavior, learning and health. As parents, we can help set them up for a good night’s rest at home.

Children require 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Some children have sleep patterns that don’t change, while some kids may have more variance in their sleep patterns.

 

Parents can try to set a bedtime schedule that suits their children. Find a time that allows your child to get sufficient sleep and also wake up on time for school. As they go to sleep at the same time every night, their body adjusts into a routine that helps them feel sleepy when it is close to bedtime.

Based on what time your child goes to bed, setting a consistent wake-up time is also an important part of a bedtime schedule. Try not to have too much variance in their wake-up times, such as waking up on 8AM on one day and 9AM on another.

This also applies during weekends or holidays. Try to keep the wake-up time within an hour later at most and avoid letting them sleep for too long. Extra hours of sleep can make it more difficult to sleep at night if the body is not tired, interfering with the usual routine they have on weekdays.

During the hours after dinner, you can try to create a relaxing atmosphere at home to ease your child into a state of rest. The key to doing this is eliminating distractions such as bright lights, blue lights from screens and loud noises or activities that can make the child more excitable or stressed out.

Some ways you can do this are:

  • Dim the lights or turn off the lights where unnecessary
  • Limit screen time before bedtime, preferably 1 to 2 hours before bedtime
  • Help your child relax with some playtime before bed
  • Choose “quiet” activities such as reading a story book or colouring books
  • Read them a bedtime story before bed

Blue light from televisions, phones or computers can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps people fall asleep. Reducing exposure to screens allows the melatonin to set in during the night and helps your child fall asleep.

Reducing screen time doesn’t only apply for the children; parents can also help to make the bedroom a screen-free area by telling their children bedtime stories or engaging in activities that don’t require a screen.

Keep the screens off and phones silent while your child is preparing to sleep. If possible, leave your devices outside of the child’s bedroom.

When a person’s stress levels are high, their body will not be able to shut down and go to sleep. Identify the factors or activities that can cause your child to feel stressed out and avoid those activities before bedtime.

For example, doing homework right before bedtime may cause your child’s stress levels to increase and interfere with their sleep. Some children may also react strongly to TV shows, such as horror or crime shows. Loud conversations or noises can also distract children and contribute to feelings of anxiousness.

You can also train your child to associate their bed with bedtime. By avoiding activities like homework, games or talking on the phone while on the bed; you can establish that the bed is used only for bedtime stories or sleeping.

Instead of telling your children “its time to sleep!” communicate with them to associate bedtime with relaxation rather than the urgency to sleep. This helps your child to avoid stressing over bedtime as a “rush hour” or the abrupt end to a fun time.

Identify what activities help your child relax and keep calm, such as bedtime stories or singing songs before bed. Helping your child to relax is one way to help their brains get ready for sleep.

If your child faces difficulty with sleeping or snores during sleep, there is a chance that they have a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders can disrupt a person’s quality of rest, causing them to feel tired instead of feeling fresh after waking up.

Consider seeing a paediatrician if your child has persistent sleep disruption, wakes up tired even with adequate rest or snores during their sleep.

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Dr. Badrul Hisham Yeap

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Dr. Dan Giap Liang (PKT, DJN)

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