"Just 15 minutes longer." "I'm not tired!" "I don't want to get up!"
Sound familiar? Kids and parents frequently clash about when children need to sleep – and for how long. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 69 percent of children have sleep problems. Kids resist sleeping for many reasons: overstimulation, caffeine, nightmares, and even snoring.
It's wise to be concerned. The American Academy of Pediatrics ties lack of sleep to some very serious health problems such as depression, insulin resistance, lowered immunity and even ADHD. And a tired child is apt to have problems at school.
So, how much sleep do kids really need?
More than most are getting, I am afraid. Ten years ago children got an average of four hours more sleep each week! I recommend these guidelines:
- 11 to 13 hours for a 3 to 5 year old.
- 10 to 11 hours for a school-aged child
- At least 9 hours for teenagers.
How to get them to bed – and keep them there?
As parents, here are a few suggestions to help you break the bedtime battle:
1. Bedtime Targets
Move their bedtime back 15 minutes every other day until you reach the desired bedtime. For daylight savings time (which is March 13th 2016), start a few weeks ahead, and the time change will be minimal.
2. Unplug the Bedroom
Turn off TVs, computers, and cell phones. Better yet, make the bedroom for sleeping by keeping them out altogether.
3. Wind-down Time
Start the transition to sleep with dimmed lights and a bath; end with a book. Avoid TV just before bedtime.
4. Go Decaf
Kids may consume caffeine in soft drinks or chocolate. Eliminate caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime so it won’t affect sleep.
5. Reduce Daytime Stimulation
Overbooked kids have a difficult time winding down at bedtime. Try to stick to one activity per season.
6. Get Help
If, despite these measures, your child still resists bedtime, has nighttime awakenings, or snores, talk with your doctor.
Looking for more information? Check out more articles on sleep.