We all recognize the physical symptoms of lack of sleep: frequent yawning, trouble waking up in the morning and difficulty staying awake during the day. If your child is experiencing these symptoms, he/she might not be getting the quality and amount of sleep needed.
In the long-term, lack of sleep can lead to:
- An increase in stress, which can contribute to anxiety and depression
- Low energy levels
- General moodiness
- Reduced immune system function (ie: getting sick more frequently)
Getting the proper amount of sleep is therefore extremely important, allowing your mind and body to rest and recover from the day’s activities.
So, how much sleep is optimal for your child?
The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that children between the ages of 5-10 should be getting 10-12 hours of sleep on average.
How to get the recommended hours of sleep:
To ensure your child is getting the amount of sleep he/she needs, set a bedtime and establish a bedtime routine. This consistency can help your child physically and mentally unwind and ultimately, fall asleep faster and into a better sleep. The routine can include taking a bath, reading a book or listening to calm music.
Things that should be avoided before bedtime:
- Playing with electronics and watching TV can stimulate the brain, thus making it harder to fall asleep.
- Stimulants (such as drinks containing caffeine) should be avoided.
- Engaging in exercise right before bed can also make it harder to fall asleep.
Note that if your child is repeatedly having trouble falling or staying asleep, it might be time to consult a family doctor.