Sleep—is it not the time that parents pine for and children fight against all through the day? The cruellest battlefield is the one that pans out in your child’s bedroom right before sleep time. The child worries about what he might miss out on if he let his eyelids droop, and you worry about the few minutes of personal time you might not get if the child doesn’t doze off on time. Scientifically, sleep is defined as a periodic and naturally occurring state which includes temporarily-suspended consciousness, inactive muscles and reduced responsiveness to external stimuli. To most of us, sleep is simply a blissful phenomenon that is kind to our body and mind, one that we often hate to let go off in the mornings.
Benefits of sleep
Sleep is especially important for children. Children between the ages of 2 and 6 require at least 11- 13 hours of sleep per day. During sleep, your child’s brain preserves information received in the day. It releases growth hormones that augment both physical and mental development. The body restores energy to the muscles and stimulates tissue growth and repair. It prepares the immune system to fight infections. Irregular sleep patterns or negligible sleep hours can lead to night terrors or lethargy during the days.
7 tips to improve sleep quality in children
Getting children to develop sound sleeping habits is a herculean task. Nevertheless, there are a few practices that you can adopt to make this process manageable.
Early dinner: Ensure that your child has had dinner at least 2 hours before sleep time as an overly stuffed tummy can interfere with your child’s sleep.
Avoid certain foods: Do not give your child stimulants like energy drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate or cola in the evenings.
Physical activity: Ensure your child has had a physically active day, a reasonable share of which was spent outdoors in daylight. Take care to not tire them out too much because overexertion can also prevent your child from falling asleep.
Limit nap time: If your child is used to taking naps in the afternoon, limit them to an hour so that it doesn’t interfere with his sleeping pattern at night.
Establish a routine: Whether you like it or not, routine is the mantra of the day. Start by taking your child to bed half an hour prior to the time you want him to actually sleep. This time should be fixed. Allow him to wind down.
Provide a secure, comforting environment: Tuck your child into bed, read her a story or sing her to sleep in a familiar and relaxing environment that lacks unnecessary sources of stimulation. Toddlers have an active imagination and mind. At times, this results in night terrors or nightmares. To avoid these, you should prevent exposure to scary or overly exciting stories, images or activities before sleep time. Pay heed to her demands to check under the bed for a monster or for her favourite doll or blanket, because the reassurance helps her settle down faster.
Say no to gadgets: Respond to requests for the last game of ‘Temple run’ with a sweet rejection as it is imperative that you avoid all kinds of devices including, phones, laptops and TV during this time.
You might think that a glass of milk laced with turmeric would do the trick, and sometimes it does. But, often, it is necessary to take the longer route to achieve what is best for your child’s well-being. Inculcating these habits in your child will result in a wonderful reward when morning comes—you are greeted by a smiling and relaxed child, and not a grumpy face that heralds a tough and long day.
What are the problems faced by children who do not sleep well? Click the article below to find out.