Ways to Help Your Kids Get Enough Sleep
Getting sufficient sleep is essential for a number of reasons. From improved mood and memory to better regulated blood sugar levels and stress hormones, a good night of sleep is good for everyone.
But as much as you may urge your kids to make sure they’re getting to bed on time or hoping they sleep soundly through the night, things don’t always go as planned. We’re covering the best ways to help your kids get the sleep they need for overall health.
Why Sleep is Important for Kids
Sleep is especially important for kids and teenagers. Studies show that kids who get their recommended hours of sleep on a regular basis experience a range of health benefits, including:
- Better memory
- Increased attention span
- Improved ability to learn
- Better mental health
- Better physical health
On the flip side, lack of sleep in kids has been linked to obesity and mental health disorders.1
How Much Sleep do Kids Need?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the amount of sleep we need varies by age.2
- Under 1 year old: 12 to 16 hours a night
- 1 to 2 years old: 11 to 14 hours
- 3 to 5 years old: 10 to 13 hours
- 6 to 12 years old: 9 to 12 hours
- 13 to 18 years old: 8 to 10 hours
Tips To Help Kids Get Enough Sleep
If your kid or teen isn’t hitting their target number of hours of shut-eye per night, there are a few things you can do to help.
Here are our tip tips for helping kids get more sleep:
- Stick to a schedule. When you set a bedtime and wake up time and stick to it all seven days of the week, kids grow accustomed to the schedule. Mentally and physically, they will know when it’s time to wind down and wake up each day.
- Create a routine. Before bedtime, help kids get ready for sleep with a routine of low-energy activities. Read a book, listen to soft music, or have a moment to cuddle in bed and talk about your day. When kids have something to look forward to before sleep, they’ll have a reason to get into bed on time.
- Create a comfortable space. Like adults, some children prefer to sleep at cold temperatures. Others like to be cozied under a pile of fluffy blankets. Make bed a place where your child can sleep comfortably through the night before he or she falls asleep, and you’ll be less likely to see them at midnight. Of course, quiet is as important as temperature for sleep.
- Take off the stress. Instead of building up sleep as something to worry about or fear during the day, take the focus off of bedtime. Talking or arguing about bedtime can create anxiety for kids, which can hurt their ability to fall and stay asleep, just like adults. Instead, keep things as low-stress low-stimulation as possible in the hours before sleep.
- Eat for sleep. Avoid high-sugar and other stimulating foods in the later part of the day. Chocolate contains caffeine that may keep little ones up at night. Instead, opt for a healthy, satisfying dinner an hour or two before sleep. Studies suggest that diets higher in fiber and saturated fat may impact sleep quality and duration.3
The Bottom Line
In addition to ensuring your child is sleeping the right amount, pay attention to their diet to ensure optimal health and development. When in doubt, a bone health supplement can fill any gaps in the vitamins and minerals your child needs.
1 Miller, A. L., Lumeng, J. C., & LeBourgeois, M. K. (2015). Sleep patterns and obesity in childhood. Current opinion in endocrinology, diabetes, and obesity, 22(1), 41–47. https://doi.org/10.1097/MED.0000000000000125
2 Jenco, M. (2021, May 14). AAP endorses new recommendations on sleep times. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/06/13/Sleep061316.
3 St-Onge MP, Roberts A, Shechter A, Choudhury AR. Fiber and Saturated Fat Are Associated with Sleep Arousals and Slow Wave Sleep. J Clin Sleep Med. 2016 Jan;12(1):19-24. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.5384. PMID: 26156950; PMCID: PMC4702189.