Hi this is Terri Borman child care provider and author of “Shapes Go to School.” One of the most common complaints I hear from parents as they drop their kiddos off in the morning is about their sleep deprivation. They are holding their eyes open with toothpicks and looking for the Folgers so they can wake up. What is causing their lack of sleep? Well, if you guessed their children kept them up all night, then you are correct. This isn’t just a phenomena happening at my child care…. It’s a phenomena happening all across the USA.
The National Sleep Foundation recently released its annual “Sleep in America” poll. They polled parents to see how much sleep their child usually gets per night. The estimates were well below the foundation’s recommendations for all age levels.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends preschoolers (ages 3 to 5) to get between 11 to 13 hours of sleep per night. School aged kids (ages 5 to 10) should get between 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night. Teens (ages 11-17) should get 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night.
So what’s the solution to this widespread problem? I researched several articles and came to this conclusion for getting a better night’s sleep. First of all, children need to follow a nightly bedtime routine that is consistent. A consistent bedtime routine makes it easier for your child to fall asleep and sleep through the night.
Set a bedtime that is at the same time every night. Make bedtime relaxing with no television or videos. According to Dr. Shelby Harris, a sleep psychologist and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, the blue light from device screens makes our brains think it is daytime and stops producing melatonin. Melatonin is produced in the brain when the sun goes down, signaling that bedtime is coming within a few hours, and melatonin helps to regulate sleep.
Here is a sample bedtime routine:
1.) Make a light snack. Bananas, avocado, peanuts, almonds, figs and milk based drinks all contain tryptophans, which aide in the production of melatonin.
2.) Have your child take a warm bath or shower.
3.) Have your child put on comfortable pajamas. FYI, don’t let them put on the outfit they picked for the next day or at least draw the line at the shoes. Yes true story I did catch my daughter in bed with her shoes on once.
4.) Have your child brush their teeth.
5.) Read with your child a book like for example “Shapes Go to School” available at Amazon.com. Sorry I had to throw my book a plug. Did you also like the title of this article Star Light Star Bright? I thought it tied into the book nicely too! Kudo’s to Pinterest for the help!
6.) Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature. You may want to run a fan for the white noise and for air circulation. If the weather is cool, I will still run the fan for the white noise but I don’t let it blow directly on the children.
7.) Put your child to bed awake and encourage them to fall asleep on their own. A child who can fall asleep on their own will be able to return to sleep during night time awakenings. Infants who are put to bed tired but not asleep, are more likely to become self-soothers which allows them to fall asleep independently at bedtime and put themselves back to sleep during the night time. Infants should be put on their backs to sleep with nothing in their beds except a passifier. Swaddling is no longer an accepted practice and is considered dangerous to infants 8 weeks and older.
Be blessed and to all the parent’s out there happy dreams,