Sometimes after the long Summer holidays it can be difficult to get the kids back into a routine come September when school starts again. One routine that can be harder than others to settle into is a good sleep pattern for your child, which often make parents ask themselves How Much Sleep Does my Child Really Need? Well to help you out we have put together a little guide.
Guide to How Much Sleep Children Really Need
This is only a rough indication of how much sleep your child will need at different ages, but it gives you an idea of what you should be aiming for.
Good Bedtime Routine
Let’s not forget that the sleep quality a child gets is just as important as the quantity and a good way to help this is by establishing a good bedtime routine.
To create a good bedtime routine, you first need to work out what time your child needs to be in bed for. To work this out, work backwards from what time they need to get up at, so say you need them up for school at 7am and your child is 8 years old using the guide above you would aim for your child to go to bed between 8pm and 9pm.
This is where you need to get planning around your family because if you have say a 6 year old that needs to get up for 7am, then you want to aim for them being in bed between 7pm and 9pm. However if you’re a working parent that doesn’t get in from work until around 6ish and you need to squeeze in cooking and eating dinner, homework and bathing all in an hour it could be tight, so maybe in this instance you could try prep more for the morning to allow a later wake time, or just aim for a more realistic time of say 8 – 8.30pm.
Essentially you know your child best and the fact is some children don’t need as much sleep as others and that’s why we said the above chart is just a rough guide.
Something that can massively help your child relax and nod off to sleep is if you follow a routine each night, so they know what is coming and what you expect from them.
If you can have some quiet time say 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime this would be good for them to wind down, again you know your child so will know how long they will need to chill out and calm down.
By quiet time we mean No TV, No computers, No tablets, No Mobiles, No screaming and running around the house. We don’t mean sitting in complete silent, just slow things down to a more relaxing pace.
Ideally you want to try and get your child to spend quiet time in their bedroom, maybe read a book with them or just sit talking.
Building a relationship in your child’s mind that night-time is bedroom time will also help if they wake during the night as you want to encourage them to stay in their relaxing, familiar and quiet bedroom. Its never a good idea to bring your child into your room or downstairs if they wake during the night, as you’re just setting yourself up to allowing this forever more, which could be a nightmare for you long-term.
Once you have created a good bedtime routine, it’s easy to let things slide at the weekends as you yourself are taking time out, but really you should try your best to keep this sleep pattern for your child throughout the weekend, so to keep them in good routine for come Monday when they are back to school and too its handy if your wishing to go out as a family for the day as you won’t be struggling to wake the kids to get in the car early!
Setting up a new bedtime routine can be tricky, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t work straight away. It is just all about patience, consistency and commitment.
Also, if you have a child that struggles with sleeping, try not to worry as most sleep problems can be solved and you can always get support and help from either your health visitor or GP so don’t be afraid to ask.
Why Sleep is Important
Sleep is super important for everyone not just for kids as it helps us keep alive, just like breathing, eating and drinking does.
You need to get enough quality sleep to help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, safety and in children, sleep also helps support growth and development.
If you don’t have enough sleep over time it can actually increase your risk of some chronic health problems. Also, it can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and socialise with people.
So, if your child isn’t getting enough sleep this could have a massive impact on how well they learn at school, or how well they perform in sports, as well as how well they make new friends and play with them.
As parents its our job to keep our kids healthy and sometimes we forget that also involves making sure they have enough sleep, to not only help them function but to allow them to be the best they can be every day.