Whether your child is a baby, a toddler or even a teenager, getting the right amount of healthy, good quality sleep is essential. Inadequate sleep, including snoozing that is low-quality, can be a potential threat to healthy growth and development. Poor levels of low-quality sleep in children has also been linked to several other serious conditions including obesity, behaviour problems and high-risk activities.
What should you look out for?
If you believe that your child is not getting enough sleep, these are some of the things that might indicate this in fact correct:
- Your child has trouble waking up in the morning
- They are very irritable
- They might seem overly moody and emotional
- They could be hyperactive
- They have difficulty concentrating in school
- Staying awake during the day is an issue
In younger children and babies, they may also exhibit the following:
- Being cranky and whiny particularly in the late afternoon, they may also try to nap incredibly late in the day very close to bedtime
- They can be clingy and need constant attention
- They may become untalkative, fidgety or even hyperactive in their behaviour
- Have difficulty taking turns or sharing – more than is normal for a young child
- They may fall asleep immediately on waking
- They may fall asleep during short car journeys
If you have spotted signs of sleep deficit in your child then there are some things that you can do in order to help them improve the amount of sleep that they get so that they can be at their best both at school and at home.
Routine, routine, routine
It really can’t be emphasised just how important it is to establish a good sleep routine whilst your baby is younger. Good sleep habits early on in life will help later down the line by establishing the basics.
Make sure that your child’s room is comfortable. This means it should be neither too hot nor too cold, if their room is quite bright consider black out blinds or curtains which will help to make it darker and easier to sleep in. Comfortable night attire is also something you should consider. Pyjamas should not be too tight at the cuffs or around the neck and should be made from natural fibres which can help to regulate body temperature and which your child is also less likely to have a reaction to. Organic cotton is a really good choice for comfortable children’s pyjamas. Don’t forget that children, especially younger ones, can grow really quickly so they may suddenly grow out of their pyjamas, if their night attire is too tight, they may find it difficult to sleep properly.
It can be a good idea to limit screen time in the hour before bedtime as this can be over stimulating to the brain which can then make it difficult to fall asleep. Story time is a great activity for younger children before bed and older children can also benefit from reading for half an hour as part of a bedtime routine to help promote good quality sleep.