Good sleeping habits in children

Thrive Psychology Clinic > Blog > Good sleeping habits in children

July 16, 2020 / By thadmin2

(5-Minute Read)

 

As we all know, having bad sleep the previous night can leave us feeling lethargic and cranky the next day. However, did you know that it can also result in many other negative health consequences as well? Having poor sleep is found to be linked to problems such as depression, weight gain and puts us at higher risk of chronic diseases and diabetes. Furthermore, it is especially important for your child to get good sleep as it will affect their growth and development. It has been found that a lack of sleep has a negative impact on:

 

  • Alertness
  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Performance
  • Learning abilities
  • Temperament

 

During the circuit breaker, your child may have developed poorer sleeping habits due to a change in routine to one that is less structured. Instead of having to report to school at a certain timing every morning, students have more flexibility with their home-based learning arrangements and can decide their own pace of learning. The loosening of school structure, in turn, affects their usual routines, such as going to bed early. 

A combination of other factors, such as not having to commute between home and school, having lesser social interactions, not being able to go outdoors and play has also led to children having more energy at night due to inactivity during the day, further contributing to their sleeplessness. 

Also, the worries that your child is having due to the COVID-19 situation may also be keeping them up at night. While your young child may not fully understand the consequences of this pandemic, they are able to easily pick up adults’ moods. Adults are understandably feeling anxious about their health and work, worried about financial security, and uncertain about the future. These negative feelings may also be fueled by feelings of isolation due to safe distancing measures. Consequently, the news, adults’ conversations and the tense atmosphere around the house will be picked up by the child and leave them feeling worried or scared, resulting in them not being able to sleep as well at night. 

Older children may choose to voluntarily stay up much later than before as they want to watch a movie online, talk to their friends, or play video games. 

However, regardless of the reasons behind staying up late, it is important to ensure that they get sufficient and quality rest as much as possible. Here are some ways you can help your child do so. 

 

Make sure their room is comfortable

There might be other external environmental factors that keep your child awake at night – a light shining in through the window, the television sounds from the living room, the temperature being too hot, and many more. It will be good to thoroughly check the condition of their rooms when tucking them in bed, making sure that they are comfortable and relaxed, with no distractions that will possibly stop them from falling asleep or wake them up in the middle of the night. 

 

Set regular sleep and wake timings

Try to get your child to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends and during holidays. This sets up a pattern for the body to recognise, and eventually develop a habit, making it easier for your child to fall asleep when it’s night time. Even for naps, try to get them to nap shorter and earlier in the day, and waking up from the nap at a fixed time every day. This is to ensure that your child will not have too much energy at the end of the day and thus will have lesser trouble falling asleep. 

 

Ensure that they eat the right amount at the right time

Feeling too hungry or too full before bed can cause your child to feel uncomfortable before bed, making it hard for them to fall asleep easily. Ensure that they have a sufficient amount of dinner, without overeating. Also, do take note of foods such as chocolate, soft drinks and tea as they contain sugar and caffeine. It is a good idea to limit the intake of these foods, especially in the evening so that they will not have too much energy at night.

 

Limit their usage of electronic devices

For younger children, stop them from using the iPad or watching the television at least an hour before their bedtime. For your older kids, encourage them to put their phones and video games away before they prepare for bed as well. Electronic screen activities such as watching a drama series or playing an exciting game before bed may cause overstimulation, which results in your child not being able to fall asleep easily. 

 

Make sure they are well relaxed

Encourage them to wind down before bedtime, by reading them a book or listening to soothing music. You can also do Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercises with your child, or listen to meditation podcasts to quiet their minds and relax their bodies before bed. Having a routine every night also helps to prime your child’s body for sleep. Relaxing before bed will help your child to fall asleep more easily and get better quality rest.

Getting good sleep is extremely important for your child’s growth and development. It may not be an easy task to get your child to go to bed each night, but providing them with a safe and comfortable resting environment and setting a consistent pre-bed routine should help them sleep better at night. 

If you find that your child is still having trouble sleeping, there might be other possible underlying issues such as depression or anxiety. Here at Thrive Psychology, we offer various services that can target common problems found in today’s children and youth. Our goal is to get an accurate read on your child’s experiences so that we can put together a comprehensive treatment plan that targets their unique needs. If you would like to find out more about behavioural treatments or would like to arrange for a consultation, do contact us and we would be happy to assist you! 

If you would like additional resources on children, do check out our wide range of online content, which includes educational videos, meditation podcasts and e-books. You can also head to our Facebook page where we regularly hold live Progressive Muscle Relaxation sessions! The aim of our digital downloads is to provide content that can help enrich parents with some understanding of possible problems that may arise as your children are growing up, and how to deal with them.