It may seem simple but it’s true – a strict bedtime is the best way to ensure children get enough sleep.
A recent study by Public Health Ontario in Canada found that children who were ‘encouraged’ to go to bed were 71% less likely to sleep enough. Those with ‘actual’ bedtimes were 59% more likely to get adequate sleep.
By the time children became teenagers, the use of bedtimes sharply falls. The less involved parents are in enforcing a bedtime, the more sleep deprivation in the child rises, with 15-year-olds most affected.
It’s important as a parent to understand the full impact lack of sleep can have on children now, and in the long term. For instance, did you know that adding one hour of extra sleep decreases the chances of being overweight or obese by around 30%? Or that sleepless nights has contributed to the rise in teen depression?
It’s essential we teach them good sleep habits. As a parent we teach our kids to eat healthy, be respectful and have good manners so why not encourage them to sleep better? Older children may benefit from being told why getting a good night’s sleep will help them – for example, they may do better at school, be faster at sport, etc.
Whether it’s a teenager or a younger child (or even as the parent), here’s some of our steps to creating a workable bedtime routine:
– Set aside time before bed to wind down properly. This is a perfect opportunity to read with your child, or talk to them about their day.
– Limit the use of electronic devices before bed.
– The bedroom should be free from distractions such as TVs/computers or zone areas of the room for work/play/rest.
– Clear out clutter – it’s harder to switch off in a messy room.
– Make sure the bedroom is cool, quiet and dark and your child/teen is sleeping in a suitable bed.
– Keep regular bedtime hours. A good sleep routine will work wonders.
If you’re unsure how much sleep your child/teen needs this graphic will help.