specifically the benefits of sleeping the recommended number of hours per 24-hour period.
Read on to discover ways to develop healthy sleep habits.
developmentally alert, more inattentive, unable to concentrate, and easily distracted. They also
make him more physically impulsive, hyperactive, or lazy.”—Marc Weissbluth, MD, Author of Healthy
Sleep Habits, Healthy Child
In order to help our children obtain optimal alertness and enjoy the overall mental and physical
health benefits that come with sleep, implement these tips.
Teach healthy habits. We can all follow orders, i.e., “Go to bed.” However, it always helps
motivate us when we understand the importance of the things we do. Explain the importance of
sleep to your child. When he understands that simply getting enough sleep may help improve his
academic and athletic performance, he may be more excited about bedtime.
Make bedrooms conducive to sleep. Make your child’s bedroom more conducive to sleep by
ensuring that it is quiet, cool, dark, and free of electronics, such as televisions, computers, tablets,
Avoid caffeine in the late afternoons and evenings. Caffeine is a stimulant. As such, it may
increase alertness and cause insomnia. Keep your child away from caffeine in the late afternoon and
evening hours. A few products containing caffeine are tea, sodas, energy drinks, and chocolate.
Only use the bed for sleeping. Have your child only use her bed for sleeping. Do not send a
child to her room as a punishment. Doing so may associate the bedroom with negative feelings. The
idea is to associate the bedroom with positive feelings, like good night hugs and kisses.
Avoid napping in the late afternoon and evening hours. Late naps often interfere with or
delay the onset of regular sleepiness.
Avoid large meals before bedtime. Heavy meals before bedtime often cause insomnia.
Dim household lights at night. Light and dark regulate our circadian rhythms or our sleep-
wake cycle. Dimming the lights tells our bodies that it is time for sleep. This is also why the next tip is
Turn off computers, televisions, video games, and cell phones at least 30 minutes before
bedtime. Studies show that the blue light emitted by these devices inhibits the
production of melatonin, a hormone that controls the circadian rhythms. Reductions in
melatonin make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Develop a relaxing bedtime routine. Routines simplify tasks by making them automatic. Help
your child develop a bedtime routine consisting of things that help him relax. Ideas include taking a
warm bath or shower, brushing teeth, eating a light snack, listening to relaxing music, or reading.
Go to bed at (or near) the same time each night, even on weekends and during holidays.
Keeping this routine minimizes disruptions in the sleep pattern.
Develop your own healthy sleep habits. Sleep is important for adults, not just for children.
Adults between the ages of 26 to 64 need 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly. Take care of yourself so you
can take care of your child. Children are more likely to do what they see us do.