It’s true, the quantity and quality of your child’s sleep has a profound effect on their brain function. According to the National Sleep Foundation: “To thrive academically, kids of all ages—preschool through college—need to have energy, the ability to focus, concentrate, retain information, and be creative problem solvers. Success at school also requires kids to control impulses and manage emotions and behavior to keep on track. All of these skills depend heavily on healthy, consistent sleep.” As you load up on supplies for the coming school year, it is a good time to evaluate your child’s sleep environment and habits. To set your child up for successful sleep, you must first understand how much sleep your child really needs and the major causes of poor sleep among children.
Getting Enough Sleep: Schools tend to start fairly early in the morning, in part to align with a parent’s work schedule. For the most part this makes sense, unless your child is staying up as late – or later – than you are. According to the CDC, school-age children (under 12 yrs) need up to 12 hours of sleep per night. If your child starts school at 8am and needs an hour to get ready and get to school each morning, this means a bedtime of 7pm to allow for adequate sleep. Sleep for teenagers is just as important, with their requirement being up to 10 hours per night.
Loud Noises: With the increase in families in small children moving to more urban areas, ensuring that your child isn’t interrupted by noise at night can be difficult. Other factors that lead to noise are within the home itself – loud TV’s on after bedtime, doors closing, dogs barking – all of these otherwise normal sounds can be distracting for a child who is trying to fall asleep. White noise machines can be very helpful to mask these noises so your child can focus on rest.
Uncomfortable Bed or Mattress: It’s safe to say that many consider a youth mattress as a temporary mattress and aren’t willing to invest a bunch of money for something that will be used for only a few years. When your child graduates from a crib to a bed, they’ll likely sleep in a twin bed for several years before graduating to a full or queen size bed for a few years, then it’s off to college or out of the house. So, what’s the point in getting them a high-quality mattress that they will just grow out of? Well, that is the point exactly. They are growing and along with that comes growing pains. By improving their mattress comfort, you are both helping alleviate nighttime pain and giving them a better shot at getting a good night of sleep.
Allergies: Stuffy noses might not seem like a big deal when they aren’t accompanied by a cough or fever and are often written of just due to allergies like it isn’t that big of a deal. According to WebMD, allergies are a big cause of lost sleep in kids. One way to significantly reduce allergic reactions in bed is to purchase a dust mite-resistant latex mattress and/or mattress protector to protect your mattress from dust and other allergens.
Inconsistent Bedtimes: When it comes to getting high-quality and consistent sleep, closely following a schedule is your best friend. Staying up late and sleeping in on the weekend throws a big wrench in your child’s sleep pattern and can make the week ahead more difficult. It may not be a popular suggestion but trying to closely match your weekend sleep schedule to your weekday sleep schedule might be the best thing you can do to help your child get the rest they need to excel in school both academically and socially.