Sleep Hygiene: How to Help your Child Sleep Well.

There are still a couple weeks left before the kids go back to school, which gives you just enough time to brush up on their “sleep hygiene.” 

Late bedtimes are just fine when there’s nowhere to be in the morning, but everything changes when school is back in session.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently endorsed the 2016 guidelines by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which states that children 3 to 5 years of age need 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day (naps considered), and children 6 to 12 years of age need 9 to 12 hours of sleep per day “for optimal health and well-being.” 

“Many parts of the brain work less well when children are tired. The prefrontal cortex is very sensitive to sleep deprivation, and it is key to the brain mechanisms, which underlie executive function and some of the attentional processes. The amygdala is affected by sleep deprivation and is essential for emotional processes,” says Reut Gruber, Ph.D., psychologist, associate professor at McGill University and Director of the Attention Behavior and Sleep Lab.

What are some ways to ensure your child gets a good night’s sleep?

  1.  Keep technology out of the bedroom cloud collaboration tools. Period.
  2.  Maintain the same bed time and routine each night, even on the weekends.
  3.  Avoid stimulants like caffeine and sugar past mid afternoon (if you can limit or avoid them completely that’s even better).
  4.  Think ahead. Be prepared for the morning; make tomorrow’s prep part of you and your child’s nightly routine: make lunch and snack, ask your child to pick out his or her outfit for the next day, and prep breakfast. This will calm the anxious child and parent, creating a restful night and a peaceful morning.
  5. Try this relaxation technique with your child:

Turn off all the lights once he or she is in bed. Sit at the end of the bed cradling his or her feet. Ask him/her to visualize his/her whole body filled with sand. Take your thumbs and pretend to poke a little hole in each of his/her big toes, so the sand can drain out. Begin verbally walking head to toe through the body (this is an oral acupressure technique; it is also an effective way to cultivate your child’s body and sensory awareness).

Here’s the dialogue:

Go to that space between your eyebrows, to the center of your throat, right shoulder, right elbow, right wrist, tip of right thumb, tip of right index finger, tip of right middle finger, tip of right ring finger, tip of right pinky finger, right wrist, right elbow, right shoulder (repeat on the left side), then back to the center of throat, center of chest, right chest, center of chest, left chest, center of chest, belly, right hip, right knee, right ankle, tip of right big toe, tip of right second toe, tip of right third toe, tip of right fourth toe, tip of right pinky toe, right ankle, right knee, right hip (repeat on left side), then back up to belly, to chest, to throat, to the space between eyebrows. Periodically, ask your child to feel his/her body getting lighter and lighter so he/she can drift off to sleep…

Read here for more sleep tips and study findings.

We wish you sweet dreams! ~ 4C Medical Group

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