Remember when you were young? You probably resisted bedtime and made a fuss about “lights out” from time to time. Just ask your mom.
You are not alone. As they grow up, every child rebels against rules and restrictions. But according to sleep researchers at Penn State, children obtain better sleep in the presence of consistent habits and regular sleep routines.
These investigators evaluated 1,103 U.S. households with children aged 6 to 17 years old.
The researchers found that well-established rules such as a regular time for bed and a limited level of caffeine, led to appropriate sleep quantity and adequate sleep quality.
In contrast, when children had electronic devices available in their bedrooms after “lights out”, sleep deficiency occurred more frequently.
In fact, this study recommends that for children to receive optimum sleep, it is important to reduce technology and media into their nightly routine. The negative effect of “light-emitting technology” before bedtime has previously been shown to be a problem for adults, and now it appears to have the same harmful effects for childhood sleep.
Even reading on an iPad before bedtime, compared to reading a print book, can impair sleep, delay circadian timing and reduce alertness the following morning.
Television use in the bedroom was also associated with curtailed sleep in kids.
Unfortunately, this study showed that although the majority of parents support the importance of sleep, 90% of children in this study did not sleep the full amount of time recommended for their age group.
Some of the primary consequences of poor sleep among children and adolescents are:
- behavioral problems
- impaired learning and school performance
- sports injuries
- problems with mood and emotions
- increased tendency toward obesity
- susceptibility to high-risk behaviors including substance abuse and suicidal behaviors
Proper amounts of sleep are absolutely critical for children to stay healthy, grow, learn, do well in school and function at their best.
Regardless of a child’s age, a nightly bedtime ritual will promote good sleep habits long beyond childhood. For example:
- Stick to the same bedtime every night
- If this is difficult for your kids to accept, give them a “heads-up” 15 minutes and then 5 minutes before they need to hunker down
- Schedule a “winding-down” process. This can include a bath, story time, music or just a few minutes of conversation
Following a steady nighttime schedule will benefit the entire family to enjoy a peaceful night sleep.