HKQ Kids

The Power of Sleep

Sleep: it’s something that we all need, and that’s especially true of kids and teenagers. However, there’s a good chance that many of us just aren’t getting enough. The CDC finds that a third of American adults more often than not get less sleep per night than they should. While some of this sleep deprivation can be credited to technology keeping us up at night or demanding hours at work, part of our sleep crisis can be traced back to not developing good sleeping habits when we were younger. But it’s not too late to change your own sleeping habits and help your children get the sound sleep they need. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that preschoolers get 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day, through both nighttime sleeping and naps during the day. Teenagers should be getting about 8 hours a night, but the CDC found that only about 31% are getting that amount.

A lack of sleep can be hard on both your body and your mind. In the long term, sleep deprivation may make individuals more likely to develop heart disease or obesity. Additionally, not getting enough sleep can be a risk factor for depression. Sleep deprivation can cause issues for your cognitive abilities and your reaction time, which is especially harmful and dangerous to students and new drivers; according to the National Sleep Foundation, an average of 100,000 car crashes each year are caused by drivers who aren’t getting the right amount of sleep, and 55% of these drivers are under the age of 25. Plus, as a result of not getting enough sleep, older children and teenagers are likely to have trouble concentrating, behaving, retaining information, and completing assignments; it’s hard to get straight ‘A’s when you’re not getting enough ‘Z’s.

Here are a few tips to help you and your kids get a better night’s sleep.

  • It’s tough to get away from screens these days, but it really should be a priority to keep TVs, phones, tablets, and computers out of the bedroom, at least when it’s time to go to sleep. Consider having a rule that the bed is a no-screens-allowed area; it should be a dedicated sleep space. In fact, exposure to “blue light” produced by screens makes it harder to sleep. Cut down on screen usage a few hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid any high-energy activities a few hours before bedtime.
  • Don’t eat or drink too close to bedtime. Caffeine and sugars should especially be avoided.
  • Consistency is key; it’s easy for sleep schedules to be disturbed on weekends and breaks, as kids will be wanting to stay up later. It’s inevitable that a day off from school will have your kids staying up and sleeping in later, but try to keep bedtime and waking up within a few hours of the normal weekday schedule.
  • Make sure the bedroom is comfortable in every way you can: lights, pillows, blankets, and temperature. You want an environment that makes it easier to get to sleep and stay asleep. A preferable temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees. You’ll want the room dark, though a night light is fine to have. Lastly, it’s important to block out any noise that can interfere with sleeping.
  • Toddlers should preferably get a nap at some point in the day, not too short and not too late in the day. As for teenagers taking after school naps when they get home, it might be better to avoid those, as they can make it harder to get a solid 8 hours of sleep during the night.
  • Speaking of teenagers, you should discourage “all-nighters” when it comes to studying or doing assignments; not only will they make your teens tired and less alert, but they’ll likely be worse off when taking tests or quizzes, as sleep is very important in helping to retain information.

The day is busy and full of distractions, for both children and adults, but sleep is crucial in allowing you and your kids to enjoy those days to the fullest. Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s rest.

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