10 Tips for Healthier Sleep Habits
“God made us finite and fragile. He made us to spend almost a third of our lives not doing anything except depending on him. Going to sleep is our way of saying, ‘I trust you, God.’” – Kevin DeYoung
According to Richard Swenson, author of "Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives", the average American gets two and a half fewer hours of sleep per night than a century ago. In reality, many of us could improve our lives significantly simply by getting to bed earlier. After all, insufficient sleep contributes to the risk for several health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Lack of sleep can also have a huge impact on our relationships with others and with God.
The body needs time to recover, recharge, and heal. During sleep, your brain forms new neurological connections and performs a “system backup” to retain things you have recently learned. Now imagine how important sleep is for your child’s developing brain! Ensure your child is getting adequate sleep with these 10 tips for healthier sleep habits.
1. Aim for a bedtime that allows your child to get at least 10 to 11 hours of sleep.
2. Set a regular sleep schedule. You child’s bedtime and wake-up time shouldn’t vary by more than 30-45 minutes between weeknights and weekends.
3. Create a consistent bedtime routine that is calming and sets the mind for sleep.
4. Turn off electronic screens at least an hour before bedtime.
5. Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks in the second half of the day.
6. Help your child get ready for sleep by making sure he or she is getting enough physical activity throughout the day. Aim for at least one full hour of physical activity.
7. Keep older children’s naps early and short. If your child is over five years of age and still napping, try to keep the nap to no longer than 20 minutes and no later than early afternoon.
8. Make sure your child has a satisfying evening meal at a reasonable time. Feeling hungry or too full before bed can make your child more alert or uncomfortable.
9. Encourage your child to get as much natural light as possible during the day. Bright light suppresses melatonin and helps your child feel awake and alert during the day and sleepy towards bedtime.
10. Create a strong sleep association with the bed and bedroom. The more your child’s mind practices relaxing and falling asleep in a certain place, the easier it becomes.
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