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Beddy-bye time
January 31, 2011
by Jenni Sebora

It’s not too hard to tell when your child hasn’t gotten enough sleep. Crabbiness and sassiness are sure signs.

We involve our children in more and more structured activities. These days, activities take place more days of the week and for longer periods of time. Weekend tournaments and early-morning and late-night ice time all take a toll after a while.

Children need sufficient sleep for proper mind and body development. It is common sense that if your child gets enough sleep, they will do better in school and have fewer behavioral problems.

However, research is starting to show that lack of sleep can lead to other problems later in life including anxiety disorders, alcohol or drug problems, depression, and obesity.

A guideline for adequate sleep in children is as follows:

• One to 5 years of age – 11 to 14 hours of sleep

• Five to 12 years of age – 10 to 12 hours of sleep

• Teenagers – 9 to 10 hours of sleep

Therefore, it is important to establish good sleeping habits/patterns in children.

The key to this is to get into a routine. Establish a bedtime based on the number of hours of sleep your child needs and plan your evening accordingly. Leave enough time for bathing/brushing teeth, a light snack, and a bedtime story, keeping in mind your child’s bedtime. Of course, with older children, homework must be accounted for.

Eliminating obstacles to your child’s good sleep is important, as well. Avoid caffeinated beverages in the evening. Avoid over-stimulating activities right before bedtime, such as video games and television.

Set limits on computer/cell phone use and texting. Do not have televisions or computers in your child’s room so that they are not tempted to watch “just a little more.”

By following some of these simple ideas, both you and your child can get a good night’s sleep.