- How much sleep does my child need?
- Sleep hygiene tips for parents of teens
- Bedtime routines: the key to good sleep hygiene
- Sleep Hygiene FAQs
Good sleep hygiene can benefit your child in all aspects of their life. A quality night’s sleep helps them to be better behaved, concentrate at school, fight off ailments, and improve their mental health. Stick with us to find out how much sleep your child actually needs, and use our sleep hygiene tips to promote a restful night’s sleep and happier days as a result.
How much sleep does my child need?
The number of hours your child needs depends on their age. Follow the recommended times the NHS stipulates in the table below to make sure your child stays healthy, focused, and calm.
Your child’s age
Recommended sleep time in 24 hours
Infants 4 to 12 months
12 to 16 hours including naps
Children 1 to 2 years
11 to 14 hours including naps
Children 3 to 5 years
10 to 13 hours including naps
Children 6 to 12 years
9 to 12 hours
Teenagers 13 to 18 years
8 to 10 hours
Young children need more sleep because they’re growing so fast, both physically and mentally. Their little minds and bodies can’t develop in a healthy way without this precious sleep and nap time. As your child grows up, they will need less sleep. However, it’s not just about quantity but the quality of sleep, so let’s look at some good sleep hygiene habits. 😴
Sleep hygiene tips for parents of teens
It can be challenging getting teens to sleep a minimum of eight hours; they likely have a phone, games, and other entertainment that seems much more fun. Involve your teen in a discussion about the importance of sleep and how it can benefit them academically, mentally, socially, and with their hobbies (e.g. better performance at gaming or a sport!).
Promote regular exercise
Your teen should be getting at least 20 minutes of exercise three times a week. This can be a sport they enjoy or even a walk. Adequate exercise goes towards a peaceful night’s sleep. Although, make sure it’s not done in the hour before bedtime as the heat created by their muscles will make it difficult to fall asleep.
Reduce caffeine intake and monitor eating habits
Caffeine in the system makes it harder to fall asleep and attain deep sleep. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and colas. Food is also a contributing factor to a good or bad night’s sleep. Eating too much before bed, or too little, both have negative impacts on getting to sleep and staying asleep.
Prepare the right sleeping environment
The ideal bedroom for your teen should be cool, quiet, dark, and safe. Having a comfortable bed is also essential. If they complain about their bed (e.g. too soft or too hard) it will usually help to get them a new one. If possible, don’t get your teen a second-hand bed, and let them choose one.
Encourage a good bedtime routine
Having a set routine and sticking to it will help your teen’s sleep pattern and quality. Encourage them to avoid using any electronic devices (e.g. phone) in the hour before bedtime because the blue light they emit actually stimulates the brain. You may need to eliminate all these gadgets from their room in order to help, at least before bedtime.
We’re going to delve into bedtime routines now, so you can help your teen plan one to suit them. However, these tips will also help you map out a good routine for any younger children too.
Bedtime routines: the key to good sleep hygiene
Setting a consistent bedtime routine for your child is essential for good sleep hygiene. Here are the foundations for creating a good routine:
- Write down the routine, including the time it will start (one hour before bed)
- Stick to the same times every day, including weekends
- Make sure there’s no screentime at least one hour before bed, and dim the lights
- Include food requirements (a light healthy snack before bed may be helpful)
- Allow for relaxing activities in the hour before bed (e.g. jigsaws or reading)
- Consider including a bath 30 minutes before bed as this helps to fall asleep
When implementing a new bedtime routine, you may think it’s not working in the beginning. It’s important to follow it for at least two weeks, even if your child’s sleep patterns appear to be worsening. After this time, you should start to see improvements.
Sleep Hygiene FAQs
Here are some top FAQs that parents have about sleep hygiene.
Is sleep hygiene important for youth mental health?
Sleep hygiene is extremely important for youth mental health. As children move through their schooling, they need to be well-rested in order to concentrate in class and take information in. Moreover, insufficient sleep can contribute to mental health conditions such as anxiety, or exacerbate pre-existing conditions.
What can teenagers do to improve their sleep?
To improve their sleep, teenagers can take a number of positive steps: make sure they’re
getting regular exercise, reduce or eliminate caffeine (especially in the hours ahead of bedtime), be neither hungry nor full when they go to bed, ensure their bedroom is quiet and dark, and set a healthy bedtime routine and stick to it every night.
What are signs of poor sleep hygiene?
Telltale signs of poor sleep hygiene are finding it hard to fall asleep, waking up several times during the night, feeling sleepy during the day, deterioration in mood, not being able to concentrate, and experiencing increased irritability.
What other resources for better sleep hygiene?
There are other excellent resources when it comes to improving sleep hygiene available in the UK. The Sleep Charity has tonnes of material available online, plus they offer clinics and workshops. Teen Sleep Hub is another valuable source of information, with a section for parents and carers as well as for teens.
A proper night’s sleep is essential for everyone, especially for children. If you set a clear bedtime routine that reduces stimuli, your child will benefit greatly. With just a few tweaks to your child’s habits, your whole family can benefit. Remember to take care of yourself too, so you can keep up the great work looking after your loved ones. ❤️