Working with sleep deprived babies and children is a joy. It is fixable, and the results lead to happier and healthier children-which in turn leads to happier and better rested parents. It is also a joy because of the long-term benefits of instilling healthy sleep habits at a very young age.
According to Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of “Sleepless in America” and “Raising Your Spirited Child” and director of parentchildhelp.com, “79 % of adolescents are not getting enough sleep,and up to 40% of younger children are not getting enough sleep.” http://xrl.us/bpp75t
So how can we help our babies and children get the sleep they need?
- Start sleep training at 4 months of age.
- Be consistent with bedtimes, wake times, and nap times.
- Have a consistent pre-sleep routine.
Once a child enters the teenage years, societal demands become a huge factor. School, homework, sports practices, social media, friends, and television, to name a few! How best can a parent get involved?
- Monitor your teen’s sleep and wake times, and keep them as consistent as possible, including on weekends and holidays.
- Keep the television and computer in a central area in the home.
- Put limits on cell phone use.
- Keep mealtimes consistent.
- Provide a comfortable, dark, cool, and quiet sleeping environment.
- Talk to your teen about the importance of good sleep habits, and getting the right amount of sleep a night.
- If your teen is exhausted, and needs to get caught up on sleep-miss an early morning, or late night sport’s practice.
Kurcinka’s advice, ‘If you could do one thing for free that will enhance your child’s performance in school, improve reading skills, promote a healthy immune system, reduce conflict, reduce accidents and reduce cavities-get a good night’s sleep”(emphasis added).