As adults, we have, and are, experiencing difficulty getting the sleep we need. We have kids to wrangle, homes to clean, jobs to do, and countless other demands on our time.
However, we also know how this lack of sleep impacts us: grouchy, difficulty concentrating, etc. We know the negative impacts of sleep and we try to get the sleep we need when we can.
For school aged kids, sleep is just as important, but they may not realize it. They are not necessarily able to connect that they cannot focus today because they only got five hours of sleep last night. This can lead to confused frustration at their struggles, but another late night playing video games tonight.
Besides the draw of technology, school aged kids are having a hard time getting in their 10 to 11 hours of needed sleep because of school obligations (such as homework), activities that take up their evenings, and going to bed later. Besides these demands, a variety of sleep problems are more common for kids in this age group: sleep terrors, nighttime fears, sleepwalking, teeth grinding, noisy breathing, and snoring. All of these decrease the quality of sleep kids get.
Just like adults, a lack of sleep impacts kids’ moods (difficulty regulating emotions, irritability); behavior (hyperactivity, noncompliance); and cognitive ability (problems with creativity, decision making, reaction time, memory, and attention). This makes for a frustrating day for the kids, teachers, care takers, and guardians.
Knowing your kiddo needs sleep and getting him/her to sleep at an appropriate bedtime are two different things. So, here are a few tips to help your kid sleep and sleep well.
- Create a regular schedule for sleep- go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.
- Keep a consistent routine for bedtime- include activities that are calm and enjoyable as well as one-on-one time with a guardian to create a connection with your kid every day.
- Create a soothing environment for sleep- a bedroom that is cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable (no TV or electronic devices in the room).
- Create and maintain limits- especially if your kid tends to stall, set clear limits such as when lights are off and how many stories will be read.
- Turn off electronic devices- TVs, computer games, and using the internet are all stimulating activities, not calming ones. The use of these devices around bedtime are sure to cause sleep problems.
- Avoid caffeine- be aware that caffeine can be found in lots of substances including iced tea, soda, and coffee-based products.
- Lastly, if your kid is having trouble sleeping and/or is having sleep problems like the ones described above that affect him/her during the day, be sure to talk to your kid’s doctor.
Having a hard time developing an effective bedtime routine, or is your kiddo still having disruptive days even when he/she gets the sleep he/she needs? Heart and Solutions, LLC’s staff of therapists and behavioral health intervention service (BHIS) providers work with children (and adults and families) who experience behavioral problems that negatively impact their lives. Through our three services: mental health therapy, behavioral health intervention services (BHIS), and marriage and family therapy we can help to build coping skills and work through problems/issues to make your days better.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital. 2019. Sleep in school-aged children. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/specialties/sleep-disorder-center/sleep-in-school-aged-children