The Benefit of a Good Night’s Sleep for Children
We all love to sleep. A good night’s sleep makes us feel rested and prepared for the day ahead. But sometimes it can be hard to get kids to settle down for their eight hours rest. They’re full of energy and want to stay up all night playing or wake up early for a day of adventures. And while we don’t want to limit their curiosity and happiness, we know they need their sleep.
And, what you might not be aware of is the mental health benefits of a decent night’s rest for children. Often, we link mental health issues like anxiety and depression to older teenagers and adults as we don’t see these affecting younger children. However, it can affect their mood, thinking and behaviour, becoming a part of their mental state throughout their childhood and beyond if it’s not addressed.
Please keep reading to learn more about the physical and mental health benefits of a good night’s sleep for children and what you can do as parents to support their mental health.
Why Children Need Proper Rest
Our bodies and brains need sleep. When we don’t get an adequate night’s rest, we can feel sluggish and not working to our best ability. The same is for children, no matter their age. While we don’t know precisely what our brain does while we are sleeping, some scientists think that it goes through and stores information, replaces chemicals and even solves problems while we dream away.
Most children between the ages of 5 and 12 get around 9.5 hours of sleep a night. And while this seems like a high number (most adults only get 7 to 9 hours), experts agree that most children should have more – around 10 to 11 each night! Sleep is also very personal, and the amount a person or child should get can change based on their individual needs.
A lack of proper sleep can affect growth, as well. Researchers believe that too little sleep can disrupt growth and affect your immune system – both vital for being healthy young children.
As for mental health, a lack of sleep could indicate that your child is suffering from mental health issues like anxiety or depression. Not enough sleep could also lead to these issues. With not enough sleep comes irritability, a dampened mood and the potential for misbehaviour. If they continue to not get enough sleep, then these behaviours and mindsets could develop into something more serious.
So what is the recommended amount of sleep for children?
Sleep Based On Age
How much sleep a child needs varies on their age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following per day.
- Infants under 1 year: 12-16 hours
- Children 1-2 years old: 11-14 hours
- Children 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours
- Children 6-12 years old: 9-12 hours
- Teenagers 12-18 years old: 8-10 hours
How Can I Help My Child Sleep More?
Some children struggle to get to sleep more than others, and some can fall asleep but find it hard to have a deep sleep all night long. If you are a parent facing this issue, then there are many ways you can support their struggle.
Creating and maintaining a consistent bedtime routine is essential. This helps your child’s body clock become regular, so they feel tired at the same time every night. You need to try and keep to this routine every night so that your child understands the routine. As the clock inches closer to their bedtime, start to wind down their activities and get them ready for bed. This can include:
- Dimming the lights around the house
- Stopping the use of electronics at least one hour before bed
- Stopping the consumption of caffeine and highly sugary snacks and drinks
- Giving them a warm bath
- Taking part in a relaxing family activity such as listening to music or reading a book
If your child finds it hard to stay asleep through the night, make sure you create a routine for this too. If they come into your room every night around the same time after waking up, make sure you walk them back to their room quietly and help them settle. This will get them back in the mindset for sleep without causing disruption.
In the morning, give your child a time for when they are allowed to leave their room. This means if they wake up early one day, they know they have to stay in their room and sleep more or play quietly until that time has arrived.
My Child Gets Enough Sleep, But Their Mental Health is Not Improving?
If your child is getting enough sleep, but their mental health and mood don’t improve, it could be a sign of mental health illness. When children are depressed, they can often change their behaviour; they’re no longer energetic and happy, but somewhat lethargic and isolated.
If you suspect your child is facing mental health concerns, then get in contact with me today. As a therapist with extensive experience and knowledge, I understand the complexities of the human brain and the needs of young children. By looking out for and recognising odd behaviour or mood, you can get your child the help they need to overcome their mental health issues and regain a happy and healthy childhood.
If you are interested in learning more about children’s mental health and how I can support them, please contact me today. Please take a look at my website to learn more about the mental health services I offer and the extensive qualifications and experience I possess. I have dedicated my life and career to helping others understand the importance of mental health and how they can improve it for a better quality of life.