It’s Time to Make Sleep A Priority
Getting enough sleep on a regular basis is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. It is as important as the food you eat, the water you drink and the air you breathe. Yet a third of Canadian adults and school-aged kids are sleep deprived.
When life gets busy, it’s easy to push out bedtime routines or sacrifice a few hours of shut-eye to knock off a few more items on your to-do list. But recent studies and research have shown, sleep is vital to our overall wellness. This is especially true for children.
Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle for children as it directly impacts their mental and physical development. According to Dr. Rachel Dawkins from John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, “… kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behaviour, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health.”
When your baby, child or teen is sleeping they alternate between two states of sleep – rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) – giving their brain and body a chance to rest and recover. During REM sleep, our brains are active and this is when dreaming occurs. REM sleep stimulates areas of the brain used in learning and “may be important for normal brain development during infancy” given the amount of time babies spend in REM sleep. During NREM sleep, we are in a deep sleep and there is an increase of blood supply to muscles, energy is restored, tissue growth and repair happens, and important hormones are released to support growth and development.
We now understand why getting enough sleep is important, but how many hours of sleep should your child get on a regular basis? Sleep guidelines are based on age but keep in mind, every child is different. It may take time to find out what works best for your child. And if you have concerns about your child’s sleep patterns make sure to talk to your doctor.
Science tells us how important sleep is to our wellbeing. Research tells us, as a society we are generally sleep deprived. Now is the time to make sleep a priority. This is where sleep hygiene comes in.
Sleep hygiene are the habits and routines that are conducive to getting a good night’s rest. “Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need,” says Wayne Giles, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of Population Health. Here are some tips to help get you started:
- Be consistent. Go to bed and wake at the same time each day, including weekends.
- Have a nightly bedtime routine. It sends a signal to your mind and body that it’s time to start winding down.
- Ensure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
- Remove electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets or computers, from the bedroom.
- Be physically active during the day.
- For adults, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.