The importance of good quality sleep cannot be underestimated and since sleep affects every system in the body, it is vital to maintaining overall health. Consequently, sleep is the underpin of good mental health, physical health, quality of life, and overall wellness. With any changes to your schedule or any time you’re feeling particularly excited or anxious, sleep issues may arise and disrupt your rest patterns. But fear not, you can make some changes to get better sleep with a little effort and forethought. Here we share with you 9 tips for better quality sleep.
Why do we need sleep?
A lack of sleep can impact your and your child’s concentration, memory and behaviour among other things. Clearly this is not ideal in a work or school setting. Further, sleep is fundamentally tied to our immune system, to children’s developing brains and bodies and to pretty much every aspect of health. As one of the 4 pillars of wellness, sleep is inextricably linked with the other 3 – Nutrition, Mental Wellness and Exercise.
And it’s not just the kids! We adults need our sleep too for all the same reasons – and then some! Learn about the financial costs of sleep depravation here, courtesy of Sleep Advisor.
How much sleep do we actually need?
Newborn babies, small children, and teenagers need much more sleep than adults to support their mental and physical development. For optimal health, here are the recommended number of hours required.
|Age:||Recommended amount of sleep:|
|Newborns||16-18 hours a day|
|Preschool-aged children||11-12 hours a day|
|School-aged children||At least 10 hours a day|
|Teens||9-10 hours a day|
|Adults (including the elderly)||7-8 hours a day|
You may also like: Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?
How to gauge if your child is tired?
Sometimes it’s difficult to determine just how tired your children may be. Often sleepy children don’t necessarily slow down the way adults do and instead they may amp up in an effort to stay awake. Overtired children sometimes resist bedtime and become hyperactive later in the evening, acting as if they’re not tired.
Top Tips to achieve optimal sleep
It’s a good idea to commit to consistent habits and healthy routines which allow every member of the family to meet their individual needs every night and achieve better sleep. Here’s how:
- Have a nightly routine (or ritual) with enough wind-down time to relax. This may include 30 minutes of quiet activities in the bedroom such as reading, stretching, sharing stories, yoga or relaxation breathing exercises.
- Switch off all screens at least an hour before bedtime. This goes for phones, ipads, TVs and computers. It’s best if these devices are not in the bedroom. Studies have proven the light from these screens disrupts our sleep patterns.
- Ensure you’ve been physically active during the day. Children need an hour of exercise/play each day while adults require at least 30 minutes/day. Avoid vigorous exercise and sports at night as the stimulation and increase in body temperature can make it harder to go to sleep.
- Eat dinner at least 2 hours before bedtime. Feeling too full before bed can make it harder to fall asleep and have good quality rest.
- Ensure you have a quiet, dark, cool room for optimal rest.
- Stick with the same bedtime and wake-up time every day.
In case that’s not enough try these ideas:
- A warm bath in the evening can be very calming. Epsom salts can help unwind and relax muscles plus the magnesium in the bath salts is a great sleep aid.
- Try essential oils like lavender or chamomile. Try a pillow spray or scented body lotion.
- Have a family chat to explain the importance of sleep, especially to the teens in your house, and create a routine together for better sleep.