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Is your child getting enough sleep?

In our ever busy worlds with competing demands and daily stressors, getting adequate sleep can be a challenge. Sleep is important for every one and for every part of the body, and it is especially important for young children as their bodies and minds develop. Children of all ages need to get enough sleep so they can play, learn and concentrate during the day. Sleep is important as it

  • restores children physically; along with diet and exercise it helps us to grow, repair and boosts the immune system.
  • helps us learn and remember things. While sleeping, the brain processes information and stores memories for future use. Adequate sleep is required for learning
  • is an essential part of coping with everyday tasks and emotional wellbeing

 

So what is enough sleep? 

The following daily sleep allotments have been recommended for different age groups.

Age Group   Age Range   Recommended Amount of Sleep per Day
Newborn   0-3 months   14-17 hours
Infant   4-11 months   12-15 hours
Toddler   1-2 years   11-14 hours
Preschool   3-5 years   10-13 hours
School-age   6-13 years   9-11 hours
Teen   14-17 years   8-10 hours

 

Research has also indicated that children with neurodiversities such as Attention Deficit Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder can often experience more difficulties than their peers with getting to sleep (sleep latency).

 

What can you do to support your child’s sleep?

  • Set a regular time for bedtime and wake time – keep the time consistent between weekdays and weekends
  • Create a positive sleep environment – there has been lots of talk about the need to reduce blue light from TV and devices prior to bedtime, but there are lots of other ways that we can create a calming bedroom or sleep environment. Where possible, lower the light and noise level in the house an hour or so before bed and keep a cooler bedroom. Try to make the hour before bedtime relaxing, as too much activity can keep a child awake (over-aroused). It is also good to aim for the child to fall asleep by themself in the same place as where they sleep all night.
  • Create a consistent positive bedtime routine – there is no “perfect” bedtime/sleep routine, what is important is making a consistent bedtime routine that works for your family. Having the same or similar steps happen every night can assist your child to know what is coming next and to get their body ready for settling and sleep. Some steps that families have adopted into their evening routine after family meals may include – watching favourite tv show, bath time, teeth brushing, turning on nightlight, reading storybooks, journaling, chatting about day, writing in journal, gratitude tasks/prayers.
  • Consider the amount of sleep your child is getting during the day – daytime naps need to be considered with regard to their age and development. Very long naps, extra naps or naps in the late afternoon can result in a child sleeping less at night.

 

How can Occupational Therapy help?

Occupational therapists use knowledge of sleep physiology, sleep disorders, and evidence-based sleep promotion practices to evaluate and address the impacts of sleep insufficiency on occupational performance and participation. Challenges with bedtime routines and sleep are addressed from the perspective of health maintenance through self-care. If you would like some further support with your child’s bedtime routine or sleep, our therapists at Kids That Go may be able to assist.

Leisha Ward (Occupational Therapist)

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