Sleep is one of the most important things when it comes to healthy development and growth for teenagers and children. Whether your child gets enough sleep or not can impact their mood, behaviour, concentration, and mental and physical development. The question is, how much sleep do children and teenagers need?
While adults can healthily scrape by with 7 hours of sleep, kids and teenagers need more. Ideally, school-aged children and teenagers should be getting at least 8-10 hours of sleep every night. This may seem like a lot, but it is necessary. For adolescents and children, chronic lack of sleep can negatively impact their mental wellbeing, increase their risk of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem, reduce their concentration at school affecting academic performance, and increase their risk of injury when playing sports.
After learning how much sleep children and teenagers need, you may be concerned that yours isn’t getting the right amount of sleep every night. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to encourage a healthier sleep schedule for your child. Remember that lack of sleep isn’t an impossible habit to break. Their bodies and minds will be craving those extra hours of shut-eye, so by implementing a few simple changes your child’s sleep patterns can soon correct themselves. An extra 30 minutes of sleep a night will make a big difference, although it may take up to 6 weeks of getting that extra sleep before they feel the benefits.
Stick To A Sleep Schedule
Bedtimes exist for a reason – because they work. Count back 10 hours before your child has to get up in the morning and make that their mandatory bedtime. It’s important to stick to this schedule even on weekends because consistency is key. While it may be difficult to enforce at first, once your child or teenager is in the pattern of falling asleep at a certain time it will become much easier.
Avoid Stimulants Before Bed
Fortunately, teenagers and children don’t have to worry about the more powerful stimulants out there such as coffee and cigarettes, but there is another big stimulant that can drastically affect sleep: sugar. If your child is having trouble getting to sleep, try skipping dessert.
Get Enough Exercise
Children and teenagers are leading more stationary lives than ever before, spending many hours sitting down. This lack of activity isn’t good for a sound sleep. Though their mind may be exhausted, their body isn’t. Check out our blog article How Much Exercise Do Kids Need for some great ideas to get your kids moving and wear them out before bed.
Ban The Blue Light
The blue light from electronic screens has been proven to be a big culprit for disrupted sleep. Experts recommend that anyone who wants a sound sleep should avoid all screens at least half an hour (but preferably 1 hr) before going to bed. Have a designated spot where everyone in the family puts their electronics away for the night before bedtime. A study by the Victorian Health and the Sleep Health Foundation found that teens who put down their smartphones an hour before bed gained an extra 21 minutes of sleep a night!
Wake Up Later and Get to Bed Earlier on Weekends
Allow your child to sleep in on the weekends if you can, and encourage an early night on Sunday nights. This will mean they start the week with a solid night’s sleep and don’t wake up with Mondayitis.
Getting enough sleep for teenagers and children will make a big difference in their development, behaviour and mood. For more blogs about child and teen health, click here.