Help children get needed sleep by practicing good sleep habits

March 8, 2011, National Jewish Health

After-school activities, school work and sports can have your children leading busy lifestyles, making for some late bedtimes. So much activity can take away from sufficient sleep time.

Sleep is essential for the mental and physiological development of . Sleep is important for learning and memory development. Unlike adults who display sleepiness, children may actually display when they are sleep deprived.

Sheila Tsai, MD, sleep expert at National Jewish Health offers the following tips to maintain good for children:

Have a consistent bedtime routine. Have your child go through a regular routine each night before bed like reading or taking a warm bath. That can help them know when its time to wind down and prepare to sleep.

Be firm and consistent with a child’s delay tactics. We know the stall tactics that children will use. It’s important to let a child know that bedtime means exactly that.

Maintain a relaxing and comfortable sleep environment. Keeping the bedroom dark and the room at a cool temperature will help your child’s body relax and fall asleep.

Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake time. It can be tough to get to bed at the same time each night and up at the same time each morning, especially on the weekends. Doing this, however, helps train the body to go to sleep and wake up easily. Dramatically altering sleep hours on weekends and holidays makes it more difficult to get back into the rhythm during the week.

Avoid stimulating activities before bedtime. Activities such as rough play, TV watching and playing on the computer can increase the time it takes for the body to wind down. It is best if the electronics are shut off within 1-2 hours of bedtime.

Keep technology out of the bedroom. TVs, cell phones and computers should be kept out of children’s rooms. The bedroom should be reserved as a place for sleep. All these devices can keep children from going to or falling asleep.

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