There are many reasons why sleep is so important and one in particular, is how it impacts our social and mental functioning. An insufficient amount or quality of sleep can lead to difficult behaviors, inability to focus, impulsivity, anxiety, and depression to name a few.

Although our sleep schedule changes when external factors disrupt our routines, such as a season change or a stressful event, it is imperative that we are aware of our children’s sleep cues. Several examples of sleep cues include yawning, rubbing of eyes, becoming quiet, or not wanting to play.

Fortunately, we have some options in promoting a healthy bedtime experience.

Create a bedtime routine that includes calming or low energy activities that prepare our bodies to relax and encourage sleepiness. Activities can include bath or showers, reading or listening to books, drawing or anything that does not raise our awareness or wakefulness system. The ideal time to start the bedtime routine is an hour before we typically witness the sleep cues.

Another reality of life, maybe among the most important, is that most of us need to turn off all electronics at least one hour before bed. iPads, cell phones, and computers emit a blue light that has been shown to decrease or delay the release of the sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin, which then further increases alertness. Disconnecting for longer periods of time before bedtime may be required for some children.

A common question many parents ask is the recommended hours of sleep that would be optimal for their child.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 10 to 13 hours for preschoolers (including naps), 9 to 12 hours for grade-schoolers, and 8 to 10 hours for teenagers.

If you are concerned about your child’s sleep or your child has been diagnosed with insomnia, call our office to schedule a sleep consult with Dr. Anguiano today.

Grizelda Anguiano, MD, FAAP

To read more on the importance of sleep hygiene and how it affects your child, read our blog here.