When routines are upended, as they are during this time in our world, what can you do to help your child or teen to continue healthy sleep? There is a lot of general information out there right now, but they are not necessarily based on the science of sleep and may not work for your child. Here are some tips for parents to make sure your children are getting adequate rest in the middle of less-structured schedules.
Plan a Sleep Schedule
Except for babies, talk with your child or teen about the importance of keeping a consistent sleep schedule. Do not allow conflict about sleep during this time. Many older children are excited about the added flexibility with their bedtime and wake times. Being allowed to sleep later and not having to get up for school during the week can be beneficial for those children with later sleep cycles.
Figure Out Sleep Needs
When negotiating with your child about their sleep schedule, begin by figuring out how much sleep they actually need. How much sleep they need to function well needs to be based on observations and what they think rather than on professional guidelines or other’s views and opinions.
National guidelines for sleep, depending on a child’s age, are usually what an “average” person sleeps, but the range can be quite broad. Some children/teens need more than the average, and others may need less. Spend some time observing your child, talk with them about what they feel, and then develop a plan that works best on an individual basis.
Allow some flexibility concerning naptimes. If you notice your child waking up in the night or having trouble falling asleep at bedtime, shorten naptimes or take them away altogether.
Be sure and take into account your child’s natural sleep cycle. Some children called larks are early-to-bed and early-to-rise, and some are night owls. Night owls, who have a later sleep cycle, prefer late-to-bed and late-to-rise schedules. Larks can usually fall asleep in 20 to 30 minutes after going to bed and sleep well enough through the night to wake up early. These children can generally maintain a regular schedule. Those night owls may function better when allowed to go to bed when they are sleepy and wake up on their own time in the morning. The average teen has a sleep cycle of 1 AM to 9 AM, so school day schedules don’t fit their natural sleep rhythm well.
Keeping A Schedule
A consistent schedule for sleeping is critical, even though there are some variances to bedtimes and wake times. Research has proven that sleep schedules are best for children, teens, and even adults. Regardless of the day of the week, keep wake times within a two-hour span or less. It is best to find a regular waking time that fits your child and keep it consistent.
Most importantly, remember every member of the family may have different sleep rhythms. Be considerate of each other during this stressful time.
Contact Petite Dreamers
If you are looking for help finding and maintaining a sleep schedule for your baby or teen, contact Petite Dreamers. The Singapore paediatric sleep consultant is trained and certified for times like these and would be delighted to help you get the best night’s sleep possible.