As I think about being halfway through the term (what?!), my mind is already thinking about how I would love to be sleeping more. Oh, you too? It makes
sense. Sleep is one of the highest predictors of mental health, physical health and success, especially in children and teenagers. I know, if only they could realise this before adulthood! Studies show that children need around 11 hours of sleep per night, while teenagers need at least 9 hours a night to function at their highest capacity. Unfortunately, research also shows that the average teenager only gets around 7 hours of sleep, which over time, leads to a significant sleep deficit that impacts their health, social abilities and education. This may explain their strong desire to sleep until noon on the weekend! So, how many hours a night is your child getting? If it is less than desirable, do not fret. Try implementing any/all of the following tips to increase your child’s chance of getting a good, long sleep.
1. Sleep hygiene
Does your family have good sleep hygiene? While the label is a bit weird, it is extremely vital to the quality of sleep your child will be getting. Sleep hygiene is making sure the bedroom can be dark, cool and clean (at least the bed!).
PRO TIP: Try spraying an essential oil/water blend throughout the room 10 minutes before bedtime - their brains will soon associate this smell with being tired, making it easier to fall asleep.
It is important for your child, no matter their age, to have a simple bedtime routine that is followed every single night before bed. This may include brushing teeth, putting soft music on and spraying that lovely essential oil blend. No matter what it entails, try to make sure it is done in the same order and around the same time every night.
PRO TIP: Also try to make sure your child or teenager is waking up around the same every day - this regulates their circadian rhythm which will help them to feel tired or awake at the correct times.
3. Limited screen time
Wow, screens can really mess up our brains. They are one of the leading causes of sleep disturbance in people of all ages as they can interrupt our circadian rhythm and make it difficult for our brain to recognise that it is now time for sleep. Try putting the blue light filter on all screens once it gets dark outside, and limit any screen use for at least one hour before bed.
PRO TIP: Children and teenagers should have no access to the internet in their bedrooms, at all. Yep, I said it. Sometimes even the best behaved children need boundaries around technology because of its unprecedented ability to become addicting. Have your child charge their phone/tablet in the kitchen (seriously - buy them a real alarm clock), and do not allow any technology that connects to the internet in their room. Removing this temptation is guaranteed to not only keep them safe from harmful internet use, but to improve their sleep.
Working on the suggestions above certainly will not be easy, but if I could promise you anything, it is that it will be worth it. Happy sleeping!
Student Wellbeing Coordinator