“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2 ESV
How to Give Your Child the Gift of Sleep
As children age, they constantly grow and develop. Parents carefully select schools and activities that they feel will give their child the best opportunities to learn. Many, however, forget about the importance of healthy sleep, and the impact that it can have on their children’s development. Here are some ways to make sure that your child is getting the best sleep possible.
Bedtime can be stressful for both you and your child. Make it easier by creating a relaxing nightly routine. About an hour before bed, try to get your kids to swap electronics for books so the blue LED lights don’t interrupt your kids’ circadian rhythms. A hot bath or shower at night can also help soothe your child and physically prepare their body for sleep. Praying in bed can also help calm their minds, remind them to be grateful for their blessings, and help them move past the previous day’s stress. A structured regimen will train their minds and bodies to respond to a strict bedtime and make it easier for them to fall asleep.
Set Age-Appropriate Sleep Schedules
A child’s sleep needs change as they grow, so bedtime should adapt as well. While toddlers should be getting 11-14 hours of sleep a day, teens only need 8-10. It’s important to enforce bedtime, and wake up times, even on the weekends, to make sure that your kids are getting the sleep they need and staying on schedule. It can take weeks to recover from lost sleep, so if your teen is staying up late on Friday night, it can disrupt their sleep patterns for the next few weeks.
A healthy lifestyle can have dramatic effects on a child’s sleep quality. A nutritious diet can eliminate sleep issues that are common in children, such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and hunger. Light, healthy foods are the best choice for bedtime snacks. Walnuts, oranges, and bananas all contain the sleep hormone, melatonin, so a few bites before bedtime should make your child feel sleepy at the appropriate time.
Exercise is also a healthy choice that can improve sleep. Physical activity burns excess energy and reduces stress which makes it easier to fall asleep. Yet, most kids aren’t getting the amount of exercise that they should, at least an hour every day. If your child isn’t interested in sports, there are still a lot of ways to get them active. Outdoor games like tag or kickball are great ways to incorporate not just exercise into your child’s day, but also social interaction. Dancing, jogging, or simply walking the dog around the block are also great activities that can improve your kid’s sleep.
It’s common for young children to resent bedtime because they don’t want to be separated from their parents. If this is the case for your child, make sure that you design their bedroom to be a sanctuary. Stuffed animals, night lights, or one of your shirts can give them a sense of security and help them feel comfortable enough to sleep.
Physical comfort is also an essential aspect to a good night’s sleep. Dark curtains, snuggly pillows, and a soft mattress can all improve your child’s sleep quality by helping them stay asleep throughout the night.
Good sleep is a blessing. Make sure you’re helping your children get the ZZZ’s they need!
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