Daylight Savings Time can be painful when you have kids. Waking my daughter on Monday morning was like trying to bring a bear out of hibernation. It wasn’t our best morning, or day for that matter. One thing is for certain, kids need sleep…and a lot of it.
According to the Sleep Foundation, toddlers (1-2 years old) need 11-14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. Preschoolers (3-5 years old) need about 11-13 hours per day and school age kids, up to 13 years old, should get from 9-11 hours of sleep a night. Every child is different and it is important to pick up on signs of sleep deprivation such as moodiness, inability to stay awake for short car rides, difficulty waking in the morning, etc, when considering how much sleep your child should get.
Night terrors can also be a sign that your child is overtired. They can be scary to observe and something that I am quite familiar with. I had them throughout my childhood and I experience them with my daughter as well. Getting your child to bed earlier, keeping them away from sweets or caffeine before bedtime and keeping a calm atmosphere at bedtime can all help.
I get questions about kids and melatonin and it is my opinion that it should be used ONLY when it is absolutely necessary. When all other options fail, and their sleep dysfunction is affecting their health or their mood, it may be something to consider. The reality is, we just don’t know what impact it will have on kids short or long-term.
Here are some healthy habits to implement with your children, in an attempt to improve their sleep habits, which will strengthen their immune system, improve their mood and….not to mention, it helps with OUR sanity:
• Set a bedtime and keep as close as possible on the weekends. The more regular the child’s schedule, the more likely they will get used to this rhythm.
• Stay away from screen-time for 1-2 hours before bed. This is BIG.
• Avoid sugar and caffeine for hours leading up to bedtime. In fact, if your child struggles with sleep dysfunction, caffeine should be avoided all together.
• Use a calming technique before bedtime. I recently saw a book titled, Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story. It’s on my wish list:). Reading, praying, mediation…are all great bedtime routines. We also like to talk about “happy thoughts” after lights are out. We discuss something that we loved about the day and something that made us laugh. It puts “happy thoughts” in their head before they drift off. (Something we need to do as adults as well)
• For those of you using oils, lavender or lavender and cedarwood are great to use in the diffuser. If you are unfamiliar with the diffuser, it is a machine that disperses essential oils into the air with a cool mist. The molecules hang in the air and we breathe them in. Both Dr. Heidi and I prefer Young Living Oils as quality is important here. Avoid fragrance and perfume oils. We breathe these oils in and it is important for them to be chemical free as they can affect our body’s chemistry.
• Young Living also makes a roller bottle blend called Tranquil. It is already diluted and ready to go. It is perfect for kids. You roll it onto the skin around the ears and back of head, over the heart and on the soles of the feet. The essential oil sinks into the skin and again, can affect body chemistry.
Here’s to getting better sleep for a better day! These rules don’t only apply to our children, they apply to adults too! I don’t know about you but I have some changes to make:).
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Hi, I'm Dr. Heidi!
A mom of 3, pediatric chiropractor, natural remedy guru and wellness educator.