Its a question which many anxious parents ask, given how important it can be for growth, learning and other mental development. Here we take a look at some commonly cited ways to ensure your progeny get their full complement of shut eye.
Children, of course, need significantly more sleep than adults. A newborn baby might be expected to sleep for up to 18 hours per day; and will benefit from daytime naps until at least the age of 4. The NHS have published rough guidelines for sleep requirements through age groups; but also practical advice on diet, routine and other factors which promote healthy sleep.
Having a TV, or other screens, in your child’s bedroom is strongly discouraged. Not only are children inclined to stay up; they also stimulate the brain at a time it should be winding down and relaxing. The widespread, unrestricted access of many children to TVs, tablets and phones has been blamed for the fact that ⅓ of 12 – 16 year olds average fewer than 7 hours sleep per night.
Of course it is also important to create a favourable sleeping environment. Having a dark, quiet bedroom is important and, if its loud outside, consider double glazing or earplugs. A comfy bed is naturally also a big factor; research by the sleep council shows that it can be worth an extra hour’s rest per night. If you’re child is very young, it may even be worth investing in a “day bed”; for napping, like this child sized option from Bedstar.
Omega 3 fatty acid has long been known to promote brain health. Signals in the brain are transmitted through neurons. As these signals travel through the brain they jump between neurons at points named synapses, passing through fatty barriers; around 20% of which are fatty acids like Omega 3.
Taking regular Omega 3 supplements has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia; as well as improving memory and concentration. A randomised study conducted by Oxford researchers on children have shown that taking supplements over a sustained period can lead to marked improvements in academic performance, and is also linked with longer, less disturbed sleep with fewer nightmares.
Using relaxation techniques can help clear your childs mind and create a regular bedtime routine; which teaches the brain to become familiar with sleep times. A warm (but not hot) bath, yoga stretches and music can all be helpful – or a cup of herbal tea.
Finally there are some foods which have been scientifically shown to boost healthy sleep – primarily because they contain a sleep promoting hormone named melatonin. Cherry juice is an incredibly rich source of melatonin and drinking a glass per day can have dramatic benefits!