Insomnia

How to help your child to sleep better

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Sleep is the great leveller.

No matter who you are, what your age is or where you live, everyone needs quality sleep every night for good overall health and to awaken at your best.

In particular, babies, children and teenagers need to get sufficient sleep to support their rapid mental and physical development.1 Due to this, they need much more sleep than adults do, however some parents may not be aware of exactly how many hours or what the impact can be if their children sleep poorly.

Your children are very important to you and your family, so here is more information to help them get enough sleep for their good health and well-being.

How many hours of sleep does a child need?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended sleep requirements for children are2:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day 
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours each day
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours each day
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours each day
  • School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours each day
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours each day

When you compare this to adults, who require around 7 to 9 hours, you can see there is a distinct difference.

Ensuring they get adequate sleep is important for healthy development and their ability to function day to day, however if you’re a parent, you will know that some children love bedtime and others aren’t the biggest of fans.

So, what do you do if your child is not sleeping enough? How to get a child to sleep in their own bed? What do you do if your child refuses to sleep?

We're here to help. Here are some simple tips to help you help them get enough shut-eye.

5 ways to help your child sleep through the night

1. Setting a regular bedtime routine 


Putting a regular bedtime routine in place can really help, especially because children respond best to structure. So, if you look at the hours they need, above, and establish a regular bedtime, you’ll ensure they’re getting sufficient sleep and helping them develop good sleeping habits too.

This routine doesn’t just revolve around a particular time. It also includes good sleep hygiene practices too, such as dimming the lights, putting on pyjamas, brushing teeth and starting a ‘quiet time’ around 30 minutes before bedtime. These little tricks ensure that they’re in the right state to nod off when their little heads hit the pillow.

If you lead by example, children pick up these cues and it can make bedtime a lot less stressful for everyone. This routine will also instill good habits for their future too.

2. Make the bedroom a sleep-friendly zone

If their bedroom is comfortable and inviting, then you’ll have a much easier time getting children to bed. Remove any clutter, toys, ticking clocks and anything else that can serve as a distraction (or an excuse to stay up!).

If they struggle with the silence or you’re trying to drown out the noise from another room, play soothing soft music or gentle sounds to create a nice ambiance. If you’ re looking for that little extra comfort, try the Dreampad.  Their pillow also has a lot to do with how comfortable their bed is.

3. Banish electronics from the bedroom

Yes, most children have a phone, a tablet, a laptop, a music player or device of some sort today. They’re great for learning and entertainment during the day, but at night, they can really interfere with sleep. The content they’re watching, as well as the artificial light from the screen can stimulate little brains3 which is counterproductive to getting good quality sleep.

So, avoid this altogether by setting a rule that bans all electronics, especially at bedtime.

4. Make sure your child feels at ease


Some children can feel lonely or scared of the dark at night, and this can lead to anxiety and troubled sleep. To manage this, limit scary movies later at night, keep the door ajar or use a soft night light. This will set them more at ease and help them nod off peacefully.


If you’re looking for an alternative solution, try the Dodow.

The Dodow is a metronome with a light system that can help teach children how to fall asleep naturally in their own bed.

5. Be on the lookout for signs of sleep disorders


If your children are suffering from ongoing sleep problems and you’ve tried the above tips with no success, then it may be time to consult a Doctor. 

Keep your eye (or ear) out for excessive snoring, daytime tiredness or struggling to concentrate on homework. Keep in mind that they may not even know it’s a problem or not want to talk to you about it – which is why it’s a good idea to monitor their behaviours. Your insights could help your GP identify the causes and suggest the right treatment paths to find a solution.

Just remember that it’s important to encourage your children to get plenty of sleep every night, because it’s a vital part of their health and growth.

If you lead by example and establish good sleep hygiene habits now, they will not only sleep better now, but they will continue this long into adulthood.

ResMed

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Citations

1
Source: Sleep tips for children. Health Direct, Australian Department of Health.
2
Source: How much sleep do we really need? National Sleep Foundation.
3
Source: Blue light has a dark side. Harvard Medical School.
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