Creating a calm and nurturing bedtime routine is essential for children ages 6 to 12 years old. A good night’s sleep is crucial to their overall development, impacting both their mental and physical wellbeing.
Here are a few key reasons why high-quality sleep is so important to children, as well as action steps that you can take to create a positive bedtime routine for your child.
Why High-Quality Sleep is Important
- Brain Development – During sleep, the brain processes and stores new information, which helps with learning and memory. It also helps to consolidate memories and form new neural connections. Sleep also plays a crucial role in kids’ brain development and helps children with decision-making and problem-solving.
- Physical Wellbeing – Sleep is essential for physical growth and development. Children grow the most when they are asleep, and their bodies need rest to recharge and prepare for the next day. Lack of sleep can lead to physical problems such as weight gain, lower immunity, and increased risk of injury.
- Mental and Emotional Wellbeing – Sleep is critical for kids’ mental and emotional wellbeing. A good night’s sleep helps children regulate their emotions, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve their mood. Sleep-deprived children are more likely to suffer from depression, irritability, and decreased motivation. …Perhaps that’s why the Dalai Lama said, “Sleep is the best meditation.”
What is Considered ‘High-Quality Sleep’ at this Age?
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and the NHS, children in the 6-to-12 age range need to be getting 9-12 hours of sleep per 24 hours. Obviously, these are guidelines, so some kids will need more and some a little less.
The Sleep Doctor suggests ‘high-quality sleep’ is defined by:
- How QUICKLY and EASILY your kid falls asleep
- How LONG they can stay asleep without disturbance
- How EFFICIENT they are at sleeping during the time they are in bed
- The TIMING of your kids’ sleep and whether it falls in line with their circadian rhythms, so they feel alert and refreshed in the day, and sleepy at night
- As above, their levels of ALERTNESS during the day, high levels indicating they are well rested
- Whether your children feel SATISFIED with their sleep and have that feeling of “Yeah, that was a good night’s sleep ….and I’m raring to go now!”
Creating a Calm and Nurturing Bedtime Routine
Here are a few key action steps that you can follow to create a positive bedtime routine for your child:
- Set a Consistent Bedtime and Wake-Up Time – Establishing a regular bedtime and wake-up time is key to creating a calm and nurturing bedtime routine. Try to keep bedtime and wake-up time consistent every day, including weekends.
- Create a Relaxing Environment – Children need a calm and relaxing environment to fall asleep easily. This includes a comfortable bed, soft lighting, and a quiet room. Consider using a white noise machine, a diffuser with essential oils, or soothing music to help your child fall asleep faster.
- Reduce Screen Time Before Bed – Screen time before bedtime can interfere with sleep by overstimulating the brain. Encourage your child to turn off all screens (TV, tablet, phone) at least an hour before bedtime. You might want to get a pair of blue light-blocker glasses that they can wear to help mitigate any screen time in the early evening.
- Establish a Bedtime Routine – Establishing a bedtime routine helps children transition from the excitement of the day to a calm and peaceful state. This can include activities such as reading a book or children’s magazine like Brilliant Brainz, taking a warm bath, brushing teeth, and doing a relaxing activity like yoga or meditation.
- Encourage Healthy Sleep Habits – Encourage your child to develop healthy sleep habits such as keeping a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and sugar, and limiting napping.
As your child gets older, you may need to adapt your bedtime routine to suit their changing needs. For example, as they grow more independent, they may prefer to do some activities, such as reading or brushing their teeth, on their own. It’s also important to talk to your child about their sleep habits and how they can make changes if they are not getting enough quality sleep.
In conclusion, creating a calm and nurturing bedtime routine is critical for your child’s overall development and well-being. By following these action steps and making sure that your child is getting enough quality sleep, you are setting the foundation for a healthy and happy childhood.
Helpful sleep resources:
- Great Ormond Street Hospital’s ‘Sleep Hygiene for Children’ PDF
- Stanford neuroscientist and biohacker Andrew Huberman’s Toolkit for Sleep (most useful for parents to improve their own sleep quality and lead by example!)
- The Children’s Sleep Charity can offer advice if your kids are not sleeping well.