If your children (and you) sleep through the night, you are the envy of parents everywhere! So many things can get in the way of getting a consistently good night’s rest– overstimulation, anxiety, depression, difficulty with making transitions, etc. Maybe your sweetie pie repeatedly begs for one more drink of water, worries about the next school day, or can’t seem to turn off their motor at the end of the day. As a parent it can be so hard to keep your wits about you when you’re tired, they’re tired, and no one is getting their much needed rest. If you’re ready to be proactive in support of healthy sleep patterns for your wakeful child, keep reading.
How Much Sleep Should Kiddo Get?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you and your littles strive to get the following amount of hours of sleep per night:
Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
School Age (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17 years): 8-10 hours
Adults (18-64 years): 7-9 hours
Older Adults (65+ years): 7-8 hours
Now, there is a reason that a range of hours is listed for each age group and that is that people are all different. If you have questions about whether or not your unique child is getting enough sleep, consult with your child’s physician.
3 Tips for Getting Your Child to Sleep
Be Consistent. You’ve most likely heard this tip before. Getting your child or yourself into a rhythm and routine each day is crucial for getting restful sleep. They should have a set bedtime and wake time regardless of whether it’s a weekday, weekend, or holiday. Additionally, get a routine in place for bedtime that includes relaxing activities such as bath time and reading, or meditation and journaling. These consistent rhythms and routines will keep your kiddo’s sleep cycles (circadian rhythm) in check and their natural melatonin production operating optimally. For more information on balancing natural melatonin levels, check out the tips below from Dr. Sage, Naturopathic Family Physician at Intuition Wellness.
Create a Sanctuary. Your child’s sleeping area should be simple and their bed should be a sleep-only zone. This means that they shouldn’t be doing their homework or even reading in their bed. Creating the right mental association for them will essentially train their brain to relax once they lay down in their bed. It’s ok for your child to have some sort of transitional object, such as a stuffed animal, in bed with them. Yet, keep the space uncluttered overall to maintain your sleep-only zone. In addition, create a home culture that doesn’t allow electronics in bed. The blue light emitted from screens can be especially problematic for sleep-wake cycles. Plus, keeping screen distractions away from bed will also create healthy bedtime boundaries. It’s also best if your child can be awakened by natural light. However, most school days start so early that this often isn’t an option. If getting up before sunrise is truly necessary, consider purchasing a light box, which will also support natural melatonin production.
Exercise and Movement. Children who stay active during the day often sleep more restfully in the evening. If your child has a tendency to be a couch potato, there are many strategies you can try to get them moving. Finding activities that they enjoy is especially important. They should refrain from heavy exercise close to bedtime. Activities such as slow yoga or stretching are ok in the evenings and you can even combine them with meditation or other relaxation techniques.
Looking for more? Check out a more detailed version of our sleep tips ready for print or to be bookmarked.
At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in health and wellness services for children, young adults, and their families. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
The last time you went to the dentist and she reminded you to floss more regularly, maybe you nodded or giggled nervously, but certainly you didn’t walk out of her office thinking, “What a ridiculous suggestion!” You accepted it as a reasonable recommendation. And when you told yourself, “Self, it’s time to take better care of your teeth,” I doubt that your next thought was, “Gee, I’m so selfish and overindulgent.” Perhaps it’s because an expert told you to do it or perhaps it’s because it’s widely accepted in our culture that flossing is part of a solid oral hygiene routine, but for whatever reason you knew it was the right thing to do.
I’m making no judgments about whether you kept up your oral hygiene commitment. I am, however, making a judgment about our society’s lack of attention to the importance of psychological hygiene– the things that we do (or should be doing) on a regular basis to maintain good mental health. As a society, we seem to be a bit slower to jump on that bandwagon though there are some pretty clear reasons why to pursue it further. Intrigued? Good.
6 things to pay attention to right now for better psychological hygiene:
Mindfulness. This is about being in the present moment– the right now– with intention and without judgment. With the fast-paced chaos many of us currently live in, a mindfulness practice is becoming more important than ever. Greater Good in Action and Mindful.org are two great resources for lots of easy activities.
Social Support. Hands down, social support is the most important buffering factor in times of stress, adversity and trauma. There are a series of fantastic long-term studies on this topic, which suggest that, for a child, the perception of having at least one invested adult is a significant protective factor.
Play. Well, of course! In this wildly hectic world, adults and children alike are becoming workaholics and achievement addicts. It’s not that we can’t get enjoyment from work or school, but certainly a healthy balance is necessary. With the positive psychology movement, we’ve now learned about the importance of awe and the concept of flow, which are sometimes nice benefits of play.
Did you know that first aid for mental health also exists? Yup. It’s a real thing. It’s what you should do if you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis or a metaphorical emotional bruise, scrape or cut. I’d encourage you to read about it also.
My colleagues and I at Intuition Wellness Center specialize in counseling children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
Written by: Brandy Baker, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist
Image by Yann (talk) – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7866365
It’s not at all uncommon for the kiddos that come through my door to struggle with getting a good night’s sleep. This can happen for all sorts of reasons— anxiety, depression, sensory sensitivities, over-stimulation, and just plain old unhelpful sleep habits to name a few. I recently had the great pleasure of collaborating with local pediatrician, Dr. Jessica Schultz from Children’s Medical Center of Tucson, to assist a client who was having some minor sleep difficulties. Dr. Schultz gave some fantastic recommendations focused on relaxing the body and mind. This stuff seemed just too good not to share! Dr. Schultz; my esteemed colleague, Grazi Martins; and I have collaborated to put together a great little printable chock full of practical advice on getting your child to sleep.
For more free printables, advice and amusing musings, subscribe to our blog (see the far right column of this page) or pop on over to our Facebook or Pinterest pages for lots more great stuff.
My colleagues and I at Intuition Wellness Center specialize in counseling children, teens, and families. We have clinicians who are experts in anxiety, depression, and sleepy kids. If you believe you or someone you love could benefit from our services, we are here to help. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
Written by Brandy Baker, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist