Go ahead, snooze!

Get your child used to a sleep pattern to ensure he has a sound health, mentally and physically! This article tells you why a sleep pattern is important for your child.

By Sneha Bhattacharjee

Go ahead, snooze!

One of the biggest challenges parents face as their child returns to school is the re-alignment of time schedules. A major component here is the element of sleep routine. Other than those that need to wake up for summer camps, very few children actually rise early during summer vacation. Add to this the IPL fever, and children rarely go to bed before midnight in May. So, how do you get your child’s sleep pattern back on track when the school season restarts?

Instead of finding solutions to gradually ease their children back into a school routine, parents try to do this all at once. The 10 am wake-up call is instantly changed to 6 am. It is definitely not easy for children to make this sudden transition.

In addition to this, parents also tend to overschedule their children with studies, homework, activities, etc. without ascertaining the pitfalls. With countless chores to finish, sleep often takes a backseat. Lack of sleep impacts a child’s level of concentration, his ability to maintain weight and also weakens his memory skills.

Times have changed, yet the conventional thought that less sleep and more studies means better performance, continues. Unfortunately, few parents realise that good sleep is essential for re-energising. Compromising on sleep is an unhealthy choice.

How much sleep does your child need

As per the latest recommendations issued by the National Sleep Foundation, USA, while the amount of sleep one needs depends on the age-group, adequate sleep is a must for leading a lighter, happier and healthier life. As a parent, always remember to ensure 8-10 hours of sleep time for your child.

“If sleep is reduced, there is an inappropriate secretion of growth hormones. As per medical literature, growth hormones are released in children during deep slumber and this helps with both the internal and external growth of the child,” says Delhi-based Dr Shreya Banerjee.

“So, if a child sleeps lesser number of hours, his growth will be slackened, compared to other children his age,” she adds.

Signs of lack of sleep

Look out for these signs in your child as they may be directly related to a lack of sleep:

  • Mood swings
  • Low energy
  • Reduced concentration
  • Hyperactivity
  • Taking long or excessive naps
  • Increased appetite
  • Accident-prone or clumsy behaviour

What constitutes good sleep?

If your child frequently wakes up while sleeping, he will suffer from inadequate sleep. As a parent, ensure that he goes to bed keeping all other thoughts at bay. Be it his homework, assignment, or even his favourite TV programme, when he is in bed, he should only think of sleeping.

A good sleep has four clauses:

  • When falling asleep, it should take you no more than half-an-hour to go into a deep sleep.
  • Depending on the age group, the number of hours of sleep mode required varies.
  • One should avoid waking up early, ahead of the regular wake-up time.
  • While sleeping, there should not be any disturbance.

Prep yourself for a good sleep

Just as you prepare for your day going to bed too needs preparation. Here’s how you can ensure a good sleep for your child:

  • Have a bed-time routine for your child that can help her adjust to the everyday sleep ritual.
  • Read together her favourite bed-time stories, or simply lie down next to her, singing lullabies.
  • If he has a lot of homework to finish, help him plan it in a way that he is able to complete the work well before his bed-time.
  • A minimum of one-hour gap between your child’s dinner and bed-time is necessary.
  • A TV in your child’s room is not advisable. Research indicates that children who have a television set in their room sleep for a lesser duration than those without one.
  • Discourage workouts just before going to bed. Instead, ensure your child gets enough exercise earlier in the day.
  • To develop a sleep pattern, set aside a special place for sleep.
  • Use your bed just for sleeping and not for doing homework, playing games or studying.
  • A warm bath helps soothe your child after a long, tiring day and sets up for a good night’s sleep.
  • Keep the room appropriately lit. Too much light can distract your child from sleep.

The bigger question is whether you are playing the role model here. “Children tend to follow their parents’ footsteps. Hence, as a parent, you should ensure that you follow a good lifestyle such as eating healthy food and sleeping on time,” says Dr Prasad Manne, a paediatric cardiologist, based in Chennai.

So, what are you waiting for? Take the ‘sleep well’ oath as a family today and welcome a healthier, happier lifestyle. Good habits begin at home.