Parents worry about a lot of things. From illness to injury to education and empathy, parents work hard to ensure that their children have the best possible start in life so that they grow into successful, functional adults. Often, it is the basics that make the biggest different in rearing children though and sleep hygiene is no exception to the rule.
Studies have shown that sleep is critical not just to brain development, but to physical and emotional fitness as well. Kids who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of being overweight, which leads to long-term health risks (e.g. an increased risk of diabetes). Proper sleep is critical to growth, heart health, brain development, and the health of the immune system. Kids who get more sleep are also less likely to be injured.
Most people think that kids are more resilient than adults. In some cases, kids are more capable of rebounding after a setback, but it turns out that this is not true when it comes to sleep. Kids are at higher risk from poor sleep than adults, experiencing more severe consequences after even mild sleep deprivation. To ensure that your children are getting the rest they need, follow these simple tips.
Routine Is Critical
Good sleep hygiene begins with the bedtime routine. It is important for everyone to have a consistent bedtime, but it is essential for children. When we maintain a consistent bedtime, our bodies adapt, learning to produce sleep hormones at a certain time so that we fall asleep easily, remain asleep without waking, and experience refreshing sleep. Experts suggest that a bedtime ritual should be firmly established by 3 months of age and that young children (i.e. pre-teens) should be in bed before nine. Once established, bedtime rituals usually persist throughout life. Getting your children in the habit of a bedtime routine is a gift that will benefit them far into the future.
Kids who learn to sooth themselves at a young age sleep better than those who receive constant attention from their parents. The ability to fall asleep, on a routine basis, without parental intervention boosts sleep quality and is better for kids. It can be hard for parents to fight the urge to intervene with a fussy child, but it is best for everyone over the long term.
Reduce Screen Time
Experts are worried about the trend of children interacting with electronic devices prior to bed, and they should be. The blue light produced by modern computers, tablets, and phones has been shown to suppress the secretion of the body’s sleep hormone melatonin. This, in turn, can shift circadian rhythms (our sleep/wake cycle) by as much as 3 hours. Research shows that alterations in the sleep/wake cycle after everything from growth to brain development and memory. In fact, changes in our 24-hour cycle can affect blood sugar levels and increase our risk of diabetes.
Pinealon peptide has been shown to help regulate sleep cycles.
The seriousness of sleep deprivation secondary to blue light exposure has led researchers to look for ways to reduce the impact of our modern way of life on our health. Some scientists are working on technological remedies, such as computer screens that emit less blue light. Still other researchers are working on biological solutions, like Pinealon. Pinealon is a protein that is being researched in animals for its ability to regulate the sleep/wake cycle. It is hoped that pinealon might one day be used to help shift workers, truck drivers, and those exposed to high levels of blue light to sleep better and maintain normal sleep/wake cycles. Until then, however, the best bet is to avoid too much screen time, especially right before bed. You can learn more about Pinealon here
Pinealon has not yet been approved by the FDA for human use.
Reading is good for both adults and children when it comes to sleep. Studies show that reading (or being read to) before bed can reduce levels of stress and promote more restful sleep. A bedtime story is a great way for children and parents to bond, improves vocabulary, and has been linked to better performance in school. Reading to your kids before bed is a win for everyone, so make it a part of the routine.