Sleep is an important part of your child’s life. It refreshes the mind and gives the energy to work briskly throughout the day. But have you ever noticed if your child is getting enough sleep? If your answer is “no, not really,” then it’s high time you should know how sleep effects your child’s overall health and academic performance.
Before that, answer a few questions.
Do you allow your child to stay up late at nights?
Do you allow your child to watch television or play computer games before going to bed?
- Does your child use his/her mobile phone before going to bed?
If your answer is a strong “YES,” reconsider changing your child’s before-bed routine. Why?
Read on to find out.
Why do children need sleep?
Sleep is essential,
To maintain normal levels of cognitive skills such as speech, memory, innovation and flexible thinking.
To improve brain development as growth hormones are secreted while sleeping.
What are the effects of lack of sleep?
When your child does not get enough sleep, he/she will feel grumpy, irritable and become more forgetful.
Lack of sufficient sleep severely affects the part of the brain that controls language, memory planning and sense of time and can reduce your child’s attention span and ability to concentrate.
Staying awake for seventeen long hours can affect your child’s performance at school to a level that is equivalent to drinking two glasses of wine.
Your child’s ability to respond to situations and make balanced judgements can also be lost.
What are the long-term effects of lack of sleep?
The long-term effects of lack of sleep can be serious. It causes,
Mental health disorders including depression and anxiety.
Cravings for high-fat and high-carbohydrate foods, which can lead to obesity.
Heart problems such as high blood pressure, strokes and heart disease.
What are the changes that children suffer from due to lack of sleep?
Children who don’t get enough sleep are more likely,
To be depressed.
To lack energy and feel tired, tense and moody.
To have a negative self-image.
To find it difficult to concentrate in school.
To display more negative behaviours.
How can parents inculcate good sleeping habits in their children?
Encourage an early night every Sunday. A late night on Sunday followed by an early Monday morning will make your child drowsy for the start of the school week.
Decide together on appropriate time limits for any stimulating activity such as homework, television or computer games.
Encourage restful activities during the evening, such as reading.
Help your child to better schedule his/her after-school commitments to free up time for rest and sleep.
Assess your child’s weekly schedule together and see if he/she is overcommitted. Help to trim activities.
Encourage your child to take a short afternoon nap after school to help recharge his/her battery.
What are the best bedtime practices for children?
Choose a relaxing bedtime routine; for example, have a bath and a hot milky drink before bed.
Avoid loud music, homework, computer games or any other activity that gets the mind racing for about an hour before bedtime.
Keep the room dark at night. The brain’s sleep–wake cycle is largely set by light received through the eyes.
Avoid watching television right before bed. In the morning, expose the eyes to lots of light to help wake up the brain.
Do the same bedtime routine every night for at least four weeks to make the brain associate this routine with going to sleep
Start the bedtime routine a little earlier than usual (for example, 10 minutes) after four weeks. Do this for one week.
Add an extra 10 minutes every week until the desired bedtime is reached.
Avoid staying up late on the weekends. Late weekend nights will undo all the hard work put in to a good sleeping routine during the weekdays.
Remember that even 30 minutes of extra sleep each night on a regular basis makes a big difference.
Author: Sim K