Did you know that the quality of your sleep has to do with more than just what time you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning? Sleep hygiene is the term used to refer to the nighttime activities and habits we do to lead up to bedtime. A healthy sleep hygiene routine sets our children up for a good night’s sleep. Children who sleep well also perform better in school and have lower rates of physical and mental health problems. Here is what parents should include and avoid in their child’s sleep hygiene routine:
What To Do To Encourage A Healthy Sleep Hygiene Routine For Your Child
Your child’s sleep hygiene routine doesn’t just begin a couple of hours before bedtime. The things they do throughout the day also contribute to their sleep hygiene. It is important to maintain a consistent wake-up time every day to prevent the body’s natural sleep cycle from being thrown off. You should encourage your child to start their day with exercise. Exercise in the morning helps children have more energy and be more focused throughout the day, which helps them fall asleep later that night. It is also important for children to get plenty of natural light throughout the day. This helps your child’s body follow their natural sleep cycle by associating light with being awake and darkness with sleeping.
Another important element to your child getting a quality night’s sleep is their sleep environment. Your child’s bedroom should be quiet, comfortable, and cozy. The room should also be kept cool to encourage sleep. Some children fall asleep more easily when they have soft, soothing music to listen to. Your child should feel safe and secure in their own bedroom.
Now it is finally bedtime. Your child should have a set bedtime routine. This routine will help their bodies naturally associate these bedtime activities with time to settle down and go to sleep. A bedtime routine may include:
- Having a light snack
- Taking a warm bath or shower
- Brushing teeth
- Listening to soothing music
- Reading a bedtime story
- Changing into pajamas
- Having a specified bedtime
Bedtime routines are unique to your child and what works best for helping them get to sleep. What works for one child may not work as well for another. Adjust bedtime routines based on your child’s needs.
What To Avoid If You Want Your Child To Have A Healthy Sleep Hygiene Routine
There are also things you should avoid if you want your child to have a healthy sleep hygiene routine. The first thing every parent should do is incorporate screen-free time into their child’s bedtime routine. Children should turn off all screens such as TVs, computers, laptops, tablets, and phones at least one hour before bedtime. Your child should also avoid using their bed for any non-sleep-related activity. Children love to hang out in their beds while doing all sorts of activities. But spending non-sleep time in a bed prevents our brain from associating the bed with sleep. Your child should also avoid caffeine. Ideally, children shouldn’t drink caffeinated beverages like tea, coffee, or coke at all. But if they do, they should not be drunk in the afternoon or evening.
Discuss Concerns About Your Child’s Sleep Hygiene With Their Pediatrician
If you have concerns about your child’s sleep hygiene routine or the quality of sleep they are getting each night, discuss these concerns with their pediatrician. To schedule your child’s annual well-child exam with one of our board-certified pediatricians, contact Children’s Medical Center today. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week! We look forward to helping you help your child get a good night’s sleep!