Kaveh Rahmani
Local News

Sleep habits essential for growing children

When it comes to keeping kids healthy, sleep is as important as nutrition and exercise – especially during the school year when mental concentration is a must!  

When it comes to keeping kids healthy, sleep is as important as nutrition and exercise – especially during the school year when mental concentration is a must!  

  Dr. Kaveh 

New research shows that “Vitamin Zzzzz” can help children fight obesity, avoid illness and succeed in the classroom. 

But how much is enough sleep? To make it easy for parents, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has specific sleep recommendations for a 24-hour period. These will ensure children are getting what their growing bodies require:

  • Infants 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours  (including naps)
  • Children 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours  (including naps)
  • Children 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours  (including naps)
  • Children 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours 
  • Teens 13 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours  

Research has shown that when kids get the right amount of sleep on a regular basis, they’re better behaved, have a longer attention span, learn easier, have better memory and recall, able to regulate their emotions and experience a better overall quality of life.

To help your kids fall asleep, stay asleep and establish better sleeping habits, follow these helpful tips from the Academy of Sleep Medicine: 

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Your child’s bed time and wake up time should be about the same every day of the week, regardless if it is a school day or not. 

Exercise daily. Incorporating exercise at a young age will help establish it as a life-long healthy routine.

Don’t go to bed hungry. Provide a light snack such as a glass of milk, a piece of fruit or cereal and milk; avoid heavy meals one to two hours before bedtime.

Avoid caffeinated products. Avoid products that contain caffeine in the late afternoon/evening, including colas, coffee, iced tea, some clear non-cola pops, energy drinks and chocolates.

Plan up to one hour of quiet time before bed.  Allow your child to set aside an hour for calm, enjoyable activities before bedtime, including listening to quiet music or reading a book.

Hygiene and bath routines may be helpful. Avoid TV watching, heavy homework, computer gaming and tablet or smartphone use an hour before bedtime. The light from hand-held devices activates a part of the brain that regulates the sleep cycle, which could make it harder to sleep. 

The bedroom environment should be quiet, comfortable (70- 75° F) and dark, although a nightlight is acceptable for children afraid of the dark; TVs are never a good idea. 

Use the bedroom for quiet time and sleeping only; never use it for timeouts or as a room to send your child for punishment. The bedroom needs to be associated with positive feelings, not negative ones. 

In your final interaction of the evening, give a hug or a kiss, say goodnight, turn off your child’s bedroom light and leave the room. Support bedtime by keeping the rest of the house quiet and relatively dark.

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 1 print edition of the Chronicle.

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