Established Nighttime Routines Are Key For Kids' Sleep

dad reading to boys at bedtime

Getting a good nights sleep is crucial to both parents and children having a productive and enjoyable day. There's nothing worse than a child who is up all night or who won't go to sleep because as parents know, not only will they be cranky in the morning but so will the parents who also didn't get enough sleep. Most parents know, despite what their mother in-law or nosy neighbor has told them, that children thrive on routine, and that is no more evident than when it comes to sleeping. New research is now proving what most parents already knew, which is that a set nighttime routine with a set bedtime is vital to children having good sleep habits.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) recently conducted a study about how a child's sleep hygiene affects the quality and quantity of their sleep. Sleep hygiene is described by the National Sleep Foundation as "a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness." The study looked at how having a quiet and temperature comfortable place to sleep, as well as reading a bedtime story before bed all helps a child have a restful night's sleep.

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For the study researchers looked at 44 different studies across 16 countries where they focused on four different age groups ranging from infant and toddlers to preschoolers to school age children and then adolescents. The study looked at almost 300,000 children from North America, Europe and Asia.

The study found that especially with the younger children, having a regular bedtime and bedtime routine, like reading before bed, helped encourage good sleep hygiene. What's surprising is that even the older children benefited from having a regular bedtime as well.  "We found papers that showed that adolescents whose parents set strict guidelines about their sleep slept better than kids whose parents didn’t set any guidelines," the study stated.

What's not surprising is the impact that technology has on our children and how it is affecting their sleeping habits. "Studies in Japan, New Zealand and the United States showed that the more exposure kids had to electronic media around bedtime, the less sleep they had." Wendy Hall, a sleep expert and UBC nursing professor explained why sleep is so crucial to children in a news release about the study.

"Research tells us that kids who don't get enough sleep on a consistent basis are more likely to have problems at school and develop more slowly than their peers who are getting enough sleep," she explained. The study also found that children are taking longer to fall asleep so the research emphasized limiting activities like video games or watching anything too action - focused before bedtime.

It's clear from the research that good sleep routines and sleep hygiene don't just benefit children when they're babies and toddlers, but when they're school age adolescents as well. While your tween may fight you over their bedtime, feeling they're old enough to stay up later or have their phone in their room, research shows that you don't grow out of good sleep routines.

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