Sleep is a critical component of good health – especially during the busy holiday season.
Restful sleep has been shown to have important short- and long-term health benefits for both kids and adults.
Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining:
- healthy immune function
- an active metabolism
The good news is that eating healthy, playing every day and going outside can all help improve the quality of the sleep you and your kids get at night. Follow these helpful tips and you’ll be getting plenty of rest in no time.
Watch what and when you eat and drink. Eating dinner at least two hours before bed and eating only as much as you need both increase your chances of a good night’s rest. Also, because caffeine can take a long time to make its way out of your system, try not to have caffeine (including soft drinks, coffee, tea or chocolate) at least eight hours before bed. Alcohol can also disrupt sleep and any amount of liquid just before bed may cause you to have to use the bathroom during the night. By watching what and when you eat and drink, you can prepare your body and mind for better sleep.
Create a sleep-friendly environment. Find ways to make your bedroom as sleep-friendly as possible. Ensure your room is quiet, dark, cool and comfortable – and you’ll be setting yourself up for a good night’s rest. Limit the times you allow kids or pets to sleep with you, because they can be disruptive to your sleep. Fans, humidifiers, the right blankets and a comfortable mattress are all ways to improve both the quality of your sleep and your health.
Bedtime means lights out. Try to make sure kids stick to a consistent schedule when it comes to bedtime. Doing this will ensure they get enough restful sleep. Kids might test you at first until they learn that you’re serious – so in the face of delaying tactics, be firm. Try to avoid concessions like allowing kids to watch TV or read until they fall asleep.
Establish a relaxing routine. Establish a consistent bedtime routine for your kids. Doing this provides them with opportunities to wind down, relax and get ready for bed each night. Make the transition easier by turning off the TV at least one hour before bed. A typical routine could include a light snack and a glass of water, warm bath, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth and reading a story with a parent. If possible, read with your child in the room where they sleep.
Learn more about helping kids build good sleep habits and track your progress. Check out the Y’s Quick start kit for sleeping well.