7 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Sleep Hygiene by Dr. Amit Jain, Pediatrician

Do you wonder if your children are getting enough sleep? Are they going to bed early enough? It is well known that in today’s hustle and bustle of daily life, sleep tends to get compromised for everyone, children and adults alike. Sleep is essential to good health and has many benefits from allowing one’s brain to process and store in memory what was experienced and learned that day to rejuvenating so that they may be ready for the day ahead with full mental functionality. Without enough sleep, one may suffer consequences of sleep deprivation including difficulty concentrating, inattention, headaches, poor behaviors / irritability, obesity, and depression. With enough sleep, children may be able to better concentrate, have more energy, thus decreasing the risk for obesity, have better mental health, and even a healthier immune system.

As your children grow, their sleep needs will vary. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has provided some helpful guidelines regarding how much sleep a child needs as they grow through various stages of their development.

This chart includes any naps a younger child may take during the day, as it is a total within a 24-hour period:

Is your child getting enough sleep? Our NOAH family wants to ensure your children are sleeping well, as it is an important component of their overall health. Below are some tips on improving your child’s sleep hygiene, so they may get a good night’s rest and stay healthy:

  • Keep a daily routine, including sleep and wake times, mealtimes, nap times, and play times. This can help the brain get into sleep mode when it is time for a nap or bedtime, as it helps with a smooth transition to sleeping. The disruption to this schedule should be kept to a minimum over the weekend and breaks as well.
  • Establish a good routine of daily physical activity, including getting fresh air and participating in age-appropriate sports.
  • Keep an eye on that screen time! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time per day. This includes computers, phones, TVs, tablets, etc.
  • Along the same lines, all screens should be turned off at a minimum of one to two hours before bedtime as the blue light emitted from screens can prevent the brain from being able to fall asleep, or prevent the brain from getting to deeper stages of sleep until later in the night.
  • Limit your child’s bed as a place to sleep, and only for sleep. Any playtime or homework should be done in a different environment, as a simple cue of getting into bed can help trigger the brain to start falling asleep.
  • Avoid any sugary beverages such as juices and sodas just before bedtime. This includes a bottle of milk, formula, or juice (only water if needed), as these beverages at bedtime can cause or increase the speed of baby bottle tooth decay.
  •  Regarding bedtime routine, the AAP recommends the 4 B’s of Bedtime: 
  1. Bathing: having this as a part of the normal sleep routine is a hygienic and soothing way to separate evening activities and dinnertime from bedtime and can help the brain get into bedtime mode if used as a part of a routine.
  2. Brushing: Getting in the habit of brushing their teeth before bedtime can not only help prevent cavities and tooth decay, but also can help the brain transition into bedtime mode.
  3. Books: This can stimulate excellent brain activity and it can also help cue the brain for bedtime if used as part of a daily routine.
  4. Bedtime: To reiterate, none of the above are more important than enforcing a reasonable bedtime and encouraging your child to sleep at the same time every night.

If your child has trouble falling asleep or getting enough sleep, please reach out to your NOAH provider for further recommendations. We are happy to help promote this important concept in good health.

For additional information, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website

Sleep Hygiene Tips by Katelyn Millinor, LPC

“Sleep Hygiene is a term used to describe good sleep habits,” says Katelyn Millinor. Considerable research has gone into developing a set of guidelines and tips which are designed to improve sleep. There are many medications which can help sleep disturbance but these tend to be effective in the short-term. Talk to your health care professional about what is right for you but we recommend good sleep hygiene as an important factor in treatment of sleeping difficulties.

Try some of our tips below:

  • Get up at the same time every day. One of the best ways to train your body to sleep well is to go to bed and get up at the same time every day (even on the weekends). This regular rhythm will help you feel better and help to set your biological clock.
  • Exercise – get moving. Regular exercise is a good idea to help with sleep. Exercise makes it easier to initiate sleep and deepen sleep. Avoid exercising 3-4 hours before bed time. Morning walks are a great way to start the day feeling refreshed.
  • Don’t lay in bed awake. Get up and try again. If you have not been able to fall asleep after about 15-20 minutes, get up and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy again (in another room if possible). Sit quietly on the couch, read something.
  • Limit light. Avoid turning on overhead lights or lamps. Avoid utilizing screen-time on cell phones, computers, or televisions as blue light from these devices impact sleep.
  • Avoid clock watching. Many people who struggle with sleep often watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the clock can wake you up more and reinforce negative thoughts.
  • Eat Regularly. A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep well but timing is important. Do not go to bed hungry as hunger may disturb sleep. A heavy meal before bed may also disturb sleep so a light snack can help. Avoid greasy or heavy foods near bedtime.
  • Bed is for sleeping. Use your bed only for sleeping and sexual activity. This helps condition body and brain. Avoid watching television, eating, or working in bed.
  • No naps. It is best to avoid taking a nap during the day to make sure you are tired at bedtime. If you must take a nap, make sure it is only for 20-60 minutes and is 6-7 hours or more before bedtime (usually no naps after 3:00PM).
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. It is best to avoid these things 4-6 hours before going to bed. These substances act as a stimulant and interfere with the ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • Avoid excess liquids in the evening. Reducing liquid intake will minimize night-time trips to the bathroom.
  • The right environment. It is important that your bed and bedroom are comfortable for sleeping. A cool, quiet, and dark environment is best. This will reduce the likelihood of waking up later during the night.
  • Bath time. Having a hot shower or bath 1-2 hours before bedtime can be helpful and relaxing.
  • Sleep rituals. Having a routine prior to bedtime can prepare the body and mind for sleep. You can develop your own ritual of things such as stretching, baths, or breathing exercises.
  • Keep daytime routines the same. Even if you had a bad night sleep and are tired it is important to try to keep daytime activities the same. If you avoid planned activities this can reinforce your sleep disturbance.

As always, if you are trying these tips with little or no success, give your provider at call at NOAH and we’ll gladly meet with you to discuss options in achieving a good night’s rest. At NOAH, we’ll work with you and your child to choose the best path for their overall health and wellness.