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The importance of children getting a good nights’ sleep

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Bedtimes have been a bone of contention in many households with arguments and disagreements starting from a young age through to teens. But getting our children to bed on time isn’t just so parents can relax alone, getting a good nights’ sleep is vital to help children’s physical and mental development.

Why is sleep so important for children?

Sleep helps our brain develop; it enables children to remember what they’ve learnt, develop skills to problem solve, think of new ideas and helps them to pay attention and concentrate. As we sleep our body uses this time to fight sickness and remain healthy, fix injuries to muscles, skin or other parts of the body and its when our muscles, bones and skin do the majority of their growing. Contrary to what kids might think, after spending all day learning, running about and thinking, their brain doesn’t rest at night, it starts to re-load and prepare for the next day.

Co-Sleeping with your child

A lack of sleep means their brain hasn’t had the right amount of time to charge up in preparation for the next day which is why kids will be tired, lethargic, lacking concentration and uninterested in work. They may also fight more with other siblings, find it difficult to make decisions, have trouble playing games or sports and become more forgetful. All in all, a lack of sleep can have a serious impact on their relationship with friends and family and impede their learning capabilities at school.

How to ensure they get plenty of Zzzz’s

Child can't get to sleep

Although parents will understand the importance of a good nights sleep and probably relish getting into bed ourselves, for kids, they might not be so interested in the benefits and do anything than go to bed. Get them into a good bedtime routine from a young age; either listening to quiet music, having a warm bath or shower, reading or just quiet time in their room. Try and keep dinner time far from bed time, they don’t want to be trying to sleep on a full stomach. Instead if they are still a little hungry before bed give them a light healthy snack or glass of warm milk. Steer away from sugary drinks or those with caffeine in the late afternoon or evening. You want to keep the same time for bed every night as their bodies will get used to a schedule and start getting tired around that time.

Exercise

Exercise is a great way of expelling their excess energy. Kids should get at least three hours of exercise, either running around or playing each day to help their body unwind to sleep. You want to try and keep distractions in their room to a minimum. If they have a TV or games consoles in there, have a set time when they are turned off and lights go out. If they do want to watch some TV or play, consider making their bed time a little earlier to give them some free time which doesn’t impede on their sleep. Make sure their room isn’t too warm, is quiet and dark. Black out blinds or curtains are great, especially in the summer with light nights.

With parents working later, kids taking part in after school activities and busier lifestyles in general, it may be easy to push bedtimes back, but in doing so, the effects of not getting the right amount of sleep may impact on your child’s future. Depending on their age they’ll need between 8.5 and 11.5 hours of sleep a night, so while they might not appreciate a set bedtime right now, they will reap the benefits as they develop.

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About Rebecca Robinson

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About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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