As mentioned in one of our articles, it is important for your child to get sufficient sleep in order to function well at school or during their exams. Otherwise, it can lead to issues such as impaired memory and lack of alertness, which can affect your child’s performance.
Here is an approximate guide regarding how many hours of sleep a child needs at different ages, as recommended by the National University Hospital’s Child Development Unit (NUH CDU):
• 3 to 5 years old: 10 to 13 hours / day
• 6 to 13 years old: 9 to 11 hours / day
• 13 to 17 years old: 8 to 10 hours / day
Continue reading for tips on how to help your child get enough hours of sleep:
1. Put aside all devices
Put away devices such as tablets and phones at least one hour before bedtime. Blue light that emanates from screens can reduce the amount of melatonin produced. Melatonin is also known as the sleep hormone, and its production is responsible for helping us fall asleep.
2. Start a sleep ritual/routine
Setting up a bedtime ritual or routine (e.g. a glass of warm milk, teeth-brushing) can help your child fall asleep quicker. Repeated actions at the same time every night will send signals to the brain that it is time to get ready for bed and helps your child relax and wind down. A bedtime routine that is predictable provides your child with a sense of security and also teaches them to fall asleep on their own, independently. Take the time to sit down with your child and figure out each step of this routine together! Your child will be more likely to follow a routine they have had a say in creating.
3. Keep sleep and wake times consistent
Keeping sleep and wake times consistent keeps your child’s body clock in a regular pattern. Sleeping in on weekends or school holidays may disturb your child’s circadian rhythm and make it harder for them to wake up on school days. Hence, it is a good idea to maintain your child’s sleep and wake times (give or take 30-60 minutes) even during the weekends and school holidays.
4. Cultivate good “sleep hygiene” habits
“Sleep hygiene” refers to having an environment and consistent habits that promote restful and uninterrupted sleep. However, good sleep hygiene habits do not start only at nighttime. Good sleep hygiene habits start from cultivating healthy daytime routines. Encourage your child to be physically active during the day and reserve their beds only for sleeping.
5. Find out why they are unable to fall asleep
Sometimes, your child may get into bed but have difficulty falling asleep.When this happens, it is important to find out the cause of their insomnia. It could be related to stress, discomfort about their environment or even nightmares. Figuring out the root cause of your child’s sleeping difficulties will help you figure out a solution more effectively. For example, if your child is having sleeping difficulties due to stress or nightmares, create a safe space for your child to talk about what is bothering them. Having a night light can also help if your child is afraid of the dark.
We hope the tips compiled above can help your child combat any sleeping difficulties, so that they can be at their best for school and other day-to-day activities.
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