I don't usually get a good night's sleep, and my kids are starting to pick up on my bad habit. How can I stop this?
Getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important: it allows your body to recharge and gives you more energy the following day. In fact, we burn the most calories when we sleep, so people who don’t rest properly tend to carry more weight than people who do sleep well. Depending on age of children, it’s recommended they get 10-12 hours a night to be their best. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the Seven Healthy Habits that we teach kids at HealthBarn USA.
How does lack of sleep affect kids? Besides having low energy, general crankiness, and a lack of focus or poor performance at school, kids can also suffer from a weakened immune system and slow physical growth and mental development due to not getting enough sleep. In teens, sleep deprivation is linked to stress and serious depression.
For adults and kids alike, it’s important to have a routine to wind down at the end of the day. And if you adopt better sleep habits, your kids will follow! Here are some things I suggest to get all of you on track for a restful night:
- Avoid pre-bedtime stimulants. TV and computer time are also stimulants. It takes a while to come down from the high of an exciting or violent TV show or movie. Exercise is another obstruction to sleep. Kids get riled up from sports or even horseplay and need some time to decompress from it before trying to sleep.
- Sugar free. Candy and other simple carbohydrates tend to keep both kids and adults awake. Try not to eat too close to bedtime, especially foods high in sugar or caffeine.
- Give it an hour. If you want your child to go to bed at 9:00, start her moving in that direction at around 8:00. Kids often resist bedtime, so it’s important to start the process early enough that you don’t need to rush it.
- Build in some fun rituals. Consider sharing a cup of tea (or warm milk with honey), reading a book, taking a warm bath, coloring, or listening to music together. Bedtime doesn’t have to be all about brushing teeth and putting on PJs!
- Make sure there are no fears or distractions. Put on a nightlight if your son or daughter is afraid of the dark. If siblings share a room, make sure they don’t keep each other up late chatting. And as parents, make sure that you don’t have the volume on the TV all the way up or that you’re not making noise while your child tries to get to sleep.
By improving your own sleep habits and your family bedtime routine, you and your kids will all be off to a better night’s sleep.
What puzzles you about keeping your family healthy? Tell us what’s on your mind by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Stacey will answer those questions here weekly.