Here are six simple things you can do to help your child get a better sleep.
1. Unplug: A study published in Pediatrics in November 2017 found that children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to sleep disruptions caused by screens. Though the blue light that's emitted from screens can be harmful to anyone's sleep, kids in particular, with their still-developing eyes and brains, see twice the drop in the sleep hormone melatonin that adults do when exposed to screens. That means they're more likely to have delayed bedtimes, fewer hours of sleep and poor-quality sleep.
2. Have breakfast for bedtime: Some parents try to sneak in extra fruit servings before bed, but it turns out foods that combine protein and carbs, like oatmeal with milk, or toast with natural peanut butter, form amino acids that act like tryptophan, the chemical that makes you feel sleepy after a turkey dinner. Other foods that aid sleep include yogurt, cheese, bananas, poultry, eggs and tuna.
3. The environment: Some kids may have trouble falling or staying asleep because of allergens that cause itching, overheating and congestion. Have your child tested for allergies if you suspect this to be the case, and put him to bed in breathable, low-allergen organic cotton pyjamas and sheets.
4. Lose the games: It’s hard to cut down on screen time. But a 2007 study published in Pediatrics showed that kids who played one hour of video games an hour before bedtime showed significant sleep disruption. Ensure game play takes place a few hours before bed.
5. Lights out: The healthiest way to sleep is in complete darkness. “New research indicates that light pollution (any light, especially too-bright clocks or night lights) can disrupt hormone regulation, which affects sleep, and also immune system function,” says Joyce Johnson, a naturopath in Belle River, Ont. Are your kids afraid of the dark? Put the night light in the hallway and turn it off once they’re asleep, or use one that eventually shuts itself off. Also try blackout curtains or sleep masks for kids who wake up unnaturally early from sunlight streaming into their rooms.
6. Make bedtime special: When children feel loved, they tend to relax. A predictable bedtime routine that includes cuddling up with you for a story and a chat is likely to calm your little one, and help him drift off to dreamland more peacefully.
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