So the old saying goes, but in the case of securing a good night’s sleep, the reverse is true. Getting enough sleep for children, and indeed adults, is essential for helping to maintain health and wellbeing. It is important to make an effort to get enough sleep regularly, and many children require assistance to achieve this.
Why is sleep important? What are the benefits of adequate sleep?
Researchers have concluded that sleep has links to brain functions, including concentration, productivity and cognition (understanding): all essential elements for learning. Sleep also has links to people’s emotional and social intelligence. Someone who does not get enough sleep is more likely to have difficulty recognising other people’s emotions and expressions. Among other benefits of getting enough sleep is it strengthens our immune system and reduces the risk of infection and illness.
A good night’s sleep is about getting to sleep, staying asleep and getting enough good-quality sleep. So how can you help your child get the sleep they need to ensure their health and wellbeing?
One of the most important things is to establish a bedtime routine, as this helps your child wind down from their day. Australian parenting website raisingchildren.net.au recommends establishing good sleep habits by:
It is not unusual for children to avoid going to bed, which can often delay sleep time significantly; what a child wants is not always what they need. They may not understand the importance of sleep, so it is essential that the family decides on clear rules around the bedtime routine. Setting limits and being gentle but firm helps your child feel secure.
Children vary in the amount of sleep they require each night, but a rough guide is three to six-year-olds need 10 to 12 hours and seven to 12-year-olds need 10 to 11 hours (www.rch.org.au).
Sleep is a vital component of every person’s overall health and wellbeing. It enables the body to repair and be fit and ready for another day. In regard to a good night’s sleep, snoozing is not losing!
Deputy Head of Junior School Donvale