Child therapy: Healthy Sleep

Child in crib
Lars Plougmann

Getting a good night sleep is one of the most important things for a growing child. However, it is not always easy to get in those necessary sleep hours with hectic schedules and an increase in technology use. In our last post “Child Therapy: What is Sleep Apnea”, we defined Child Sleep Apnea (OSA) as a “blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep”(American Sleep Apnea Association). It is a serious disorder and affects 1 to 4% of children across the nation. Children can grow out of OSA if they maintain a healthy sleep pattern, exercise regurlarly, and keep a healthy diet. Whether or not your child has a sleep disorder, maintaining a healthy sleep pattern is crucial to their development. Step by Step Care Group created a list of tips to help improve your child’s night sleep:

1. Consistent bedtime routine

Keeping your child on a regular bedtime routine will help re-establish when it is time to unwind. A routine may include taking a bath, brushing teeth, reading a book, singing a song, rubbing your child’s back, and saying goodnight. Do not elongate a child’s bedtime routine, but instead, keep it short and sweet. Make sure all caregivers follow the established routine.

2. Winding down period

As mentioned in number tip 1, create a time of relaxation. The child needs to feel the natural feeling of tiredness before bed. This can be achieved with a warm bath, relaxation exercises, and/or reading a book.

3. No screens before bed

All TVs, iPads, iPhones, and computers should be turned off at least an hour before bedtime. It is best to keep the bedroom a comfortable and relaxed environment. In fact, it is highly encouraged to remove all screens from the bedroom so that children are not tempted.

4. Bedroom atmosphere

The child’s bedroom needs to be dark with well- covered windows. The temperature should be cool yet comfortable.  Additionally, it should be a quiet and tidy environment. This creates an atmosphere that fosters and encourages a good night sleep.

5. Limit food and drink

Large meals should not be eaten 1-2 hours before bedtime. Sugary foods or caffeinated drinks should also be given less than 6 hours before bedtime.

If you feel your child is experience sleeping problems, keep a sleep diary. The sleep diary may reveal lifestyle habits that may be affecting your child’s sleep. If the problem still occurs, contact your pediatrician.

Resources:

WebMD. WebMD, 21 Aug. 2014. Web. 04 Jan. 2016.

“Healthy Sleep Tips for Children.” NHS Choices. N.p., 30 Mar. 2015. Web. 04 Jan. 2016.

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