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With summer, consistency and routines fly out the window; it’s just part of the recipe for freedom that summer brings. Once again, we’ll have to lose those lazy day habits, and welcome a new season of school and schedules. Fortunately for some, this time can’t come quick enough, but for me, it’s like a bucket of cold water getting dumped over my head. A gradual transition is key in our case, and one of the most essential routines is that of our sleep.
To ensure our kids are getting the right amount of sleep each nigh when school starts, we start getting into our new sleep routine a couple of weeks prior to that anticipated first day. Running a multi-directional household with kids going in all directions all times of the day can be challenging for setting a consistent bedtime routine. If you’re anything like me, every year around this time, you experience that whole cowgirl trying to wrangle in her wild stallions routine. But ultimately, Mom knows best and studies show that kids thrive off good sleep routines to prosper throughout their day.
How much sleep should kids generally get each night?
Having four kids under ten years old, this is a question I often ask myself. Last year, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, changed its recommendations for how much sleep children should get.
- Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours
Why does consistent and regular sleep matter?
A study published in Pediatrics found that children with non regular bedtimes had more behavioral difficulties. That, alone, is worth the extra effort in ensuring they get the proper amount of sleep! Consistent sleep routines lead to positive outcomes such as improved attention, improved behavior and improved emotional regulation. One question without a clear answer, according to Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson of Seattle Mama Doc,: Does poor sleep lead to worse behavior or do children with behavior challenges have a difficult time sleeping? Both can be true for some children. The bottom line, insufficient sleep in children can also lead to increased risk for challenges with weight, hypertension, diabetes and decreased performance at school. It’s pretty clean in our house that insufficient sleep makes it harder to enjoy our days, so this mom is all about sleep routines for better daytime productivity and harmony in our house.
What about screen time?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all screens be turned off 30 minutes to 1-2 hours before bedtime. Further, small screens (like smart phones) are more disruptive to sleep than TV – the light from the devices can impede natural hormones that help us fall asleep. And the interruptions from devices can fracture our sleep, too. With blogging being part of my job as a full-time influencer, I can attest to the fact that smart phones do affect your sleep. If you’re looking for optimal sleep patterns, don’t sleep with your cell phone, and make sure your children are refraining as well.
Did you know that kids under the age of 12, or before puberty, get tired naturally around 8pm, according to Dr. Swanson, at approximately 8:00 p.m., there is a natural rise in their melatonin levels, recommending that parents seize that opportunity to transition kids to bed. We have a strict 8:00 p.m. policy in our house during the school year, and I must say that I agree with Dr. Swanson on SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY!
Tips if your child has trouble falling asleep:
Sometimes kids have trouble falling asleep. If you notice that this is happening on a regular basis, keeping a sleep diary can help you uncover the causes of a child’s sleep problems. Follow this link to the KnowYourOTCs site for more details on starting a sleep diary, especially if you are planning to talk to your child’s doctor about it.
Important Reminder For All Parents
NEVER give your child an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine to make them sleepy. Always read the label before giving your child an OTC medicine. OTC cold and flu medicines may contain diphenhydramine, which can cause drowsiness. It is important to only treat your child with the right OTC medicine for the symptoms they are presenting, not to aid in sleep.