Do your kids sleep through the night? No? Well, you’re not alone. This is a struggle that many parents face.
Making sure our kids sleep enough is one of the most important ways we can make a positive impact on their health. Plus, I’m sure that many of you wouldn’t mind a night of uninterrupted sleep yourselves, amiright? So many important processes happen during sleep that are vital to their development. Yet many of them are not getting the sleep that they need.
Here are just a few of the things that happen while your child is snoozing:
Growth hormone is primarily secreted while your child is asleep. Not getting enough sleep can negatively impact their growth. One sleepless night will not stunt a child’s growth, however, if sleep deprivation becomes a long term habit, it could be problematic.
Promotes Good Heart Health
Constantly waking during the night causes stress hormones to circulate through the body. Essentially, the fight or flight response is triggered over and over again. Additionally, blood sugar and cortisol remain elevated. Each of these factors contributes to heart disease.
Helps Maintain Healthy Weight
Just like adults, when kids are tired they crave junk food. On top of that, they tend to be more sedentary if they are not well rested. So not only are they eating junk, they are not using enough energy to burn it all off.
Strengthens Immune System
During sleep, the body produces cytokines, which help fight off infection, illness and stress. Less sleep equals less cytokines and decreased ability to fight off the bad germs when they are exposed.
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So now that you know how important sleep is for your child, let’s talk about some ways you can get them to sleep longer and more restfully.
Burn Off That Energy
This isn’t anything new. I’m sure you already know that your kids sleep better when they have been out running and playing all day. Making sure they get plenty of exercise will ensure they fall asleep quickly and stay asleep longer.
The last thing any parent wants is a kid who is bouncing off the walls when bedtime rolls around. To avoid this, make sure to limit sugar consumption, especially in the evening.
Make sure your child’s last meal before bed contains some high quality fats like avocado, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or grass-fed butter. Fat helps kids feel satiated and prevents blood sugar swings.
Limit Screen Time
I suggest not doing any screen time at least one hour before bed. With my own kids, I noticed that watching even just 30 minutes of TV right before bed gets them all wound up and causes them to take longer to fall asleep. The earlier you can end screen time the better.
Create a Simple Bedtime Routine
Having a bedtime routine in place, mentally prepares your kids to have a restful night. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but you do want it to be the same every night. Consistency is key. In our home, our routine goes like this:
- Put on pajamas
- Pick out tomorrow’s clothes
- Brush teeth
- Go to the bathroom
- Read a book
- Lights out
No Lights In The Bedroom
Light, especially blue light, interferes with the production of melatonin resulting in poor sleep. Remove the night lights, clocks, and any other light producing device. If your child is afraid of the dark and you really need a night light try a Himalayan salt night light.
We talked about not having any lights in the bedroom. We also want to prevent outside light from getting into the bedroom. Using some good blackout curtains and shades will keep the light out, and help your kids sleep longer and more restfully.
White Noise Machine
After the kids go to sleep, my husband and I don’t just sit around silently. To mask the household noises, we have white noise machines in the kids’ rooms.
Turn Off The Wifi
Did you know that your wifi emits an electro-magnetic frequency (EMF) throughout your entire house? EMF’s can interfere with sleep (as well as cause other health issues) so limiting them in your child’s bedroom is extremely important. Turning off the wifi during the night is a great way to reduce EMF exposure. Simply plug your router into a light timer or unplug your router before bed.
Designated Wake-Up Time
You probably already have a designated bedtime for your kids. In our house, we also have a wake-up time. Not only, does this improve my kids sleep schedule, but it also gives me some time in the morning to sleep or get things done. I put an alarm clock in my kid’s closet (to block the light) that is set for wake up time. They often wake up before the alarm goes off, and I allow them to read or do quiet activities in their room.
As you can see, getting enough sleep is crucial to maintaining health and well being. It’s also beneficial for parents to get a few hours of quiet time. Try these tips and see if they help your kids sleep better.