We can often take great sleep for granted – after all we sleep every day. Getting good quality sleep isn’t something we should be taking for granted though – it’s a massively important aspect of our health and just important as the food and drink we put into our bodies.
Research has shown that a poor sleep routine for children has been linked to a greater risk of mental health and school performance issues in children, which is something we’re already starting to see. So, why is it now becoming a problem?
Factors stopping kids getting great sleep
Studies have found that some of the main causes of disruptive sleep include using smartphones, TV and computers just before bed. The blue light that’s emitted by all these gadgets reduces the natural production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy – which makes us push our bedtimes back later and later. Recent research has also implicated touch screen technology with causing sleep disruption in toddlers and very young children. Researchers found that every additional hour of touchscreen use led to nearly 16 minutes less sleep on average over 24 hours.
Parents and children’s lifestyles are increasingly hectic, there’s always something to do or somewhere to be, and this also puts bedtime down the list of priorities. Finally, it’s true that kids especially can have a tooth, but we’re living in a sugary society that’s just getting sweeter, which isn’t doing any of us any good. If your little ones are partial to fizzy sugary drinks, or drinks that are also full of caffeine, it could make it more difficult for them to switch off when it is time for bed, especially if they have them with dinner or in the evenings.
How does lack of a good sleep routine for children affect them?
Experts know that a good sleep routine for children is critical for proper brain development and when children don’t get the recommended 9-12 hours’ sleep it can lead to issues like attention deficit, lack of emotional control and poor relationships with their peers at school …which can carry on to later life.
A lack of good quality sleep can affect children’s memory, reasoning and problem solving abilities too. Even as grown-ups we know that if we haven’t had enough sleep, our productivity drops significantly as the brain isn’t fully recovered, so you can imagine how this can impact a little one who is still developing.
What can you do to give kids a great sleep?
Paediatricians recommend that parents start to make their children’s sleep routine a priority, starting by setting up a weekly routine. The perfect routine would be one where bed time and wake up time don’t vary by more than an hour, in a bedroom that’s quiet and peaceful, giving them the best possible chance of a sleepy slumber!
It’s so important that children get enough sleep – it gives them a healthy foundation both physically and mentally later in life! We can make sure that they are nice and tired for you if you bring them along to one of our energetic Learn Play Grow sessions, but once they are home, it’s up to you to make sure that they catch enough zeds…