When it comes to children and sleep, recent studies have shown that nearly 70% of American children aren't getting enough. Aside from affecting a parent's ability to sleep, children who don't sleep enough may have trouble learning and developing socially or may be at a higher risk for health problems. Fortunately, our specialists at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center have some easy ways to help your child fall asleep (and sleep through the night).
- Avoid feeding your child big meals close to bedtime and keep them away from caffeine less than six hours before bedtime.
- Set up a bedtime routine. For example, read together or listen to quiet music for 15 to 30 minutes before you turn out the lights. Do things in the same order, at the same time each night so your child knows what to expect.
- Technology is a major culprit in keeping kids awake at night. Set a strict time for these gadgets to be turned off and unplugged each night.
- Avoid singing or rocking your child to sleep. If they wake in the middle of the night they may need you to sing or rock them back to sleep -- a condition known as sleep-onset association disorder. Instead, have them get used to falling asleep with a transitional object, like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal.
- If your child wakes up and calls for you in the middle of the night, make your response the same each time. Offer quick comfort, but then leave the room.
- Help prevent nightmares by controlling what your child watches on TV.
- It's tempting to let kids "catch up" on their sleep by letting them sleep in on the weekends, but that can disrupt their sleep schedule during the week. Keep weekend sleep times as close as possible to the weekday routine.
- Keep them active. If your kids have trouble sleeping at night, it could be because they haven't had enough physical exercise during the day.
With school in full swing, it's important to develop a regular, quality sleep schedule to help maintain your childrens' health. If they continue to struggle with a lack of sleep, talk with your pediatrician, or contact 208.227.2777 to make an appointment with a pediatrician at EIRMC.