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Common Tips for Better Sleep

Jessi Dolnik - Monday, March 11, 2019

Lowcountry Therapy is joining the National Sleep Foundation in celebrating its annual Sleep Awareness Week, March 10 to 16, 2019. This year’s theme “Begin with Sleep” highlights the importance of good sleep health for individuals to best achieve their personal, family, and professional goals.

There is nothing worst then getting a poor night’s sleep and dragging through the entire next day. Especially when the average kiddo generally has a full day of school, after school activities, sports practice and homework. Sleep allows your body to rest for the next day. 

According to kidshealth.org, “Your body and your brain need sleep. Though no one is exactly sure what work the brain does when you're sleeping, some scientists think that the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals, and solves problems while you snooze.” When your body doesn't have enough hours to rest, you may feel tired or cranky, or you may be unable to think clearly. 

Tired kids can be impulsive and distracted. According to Judith Owens, M.D., Director of Sleep Medicine at Children's National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C., “children who consistently sleep fewer than ten hours a night before age 3 are three times more likely to have hyperactivity and impulsivity problems by age 6. Symptoms of sleep-deprivation and ADHD, including impulsivity and distractibility, mirror each other almost exactly," In other words, poor sleep could lead to a misdiagnosis of ADHD. 

Aside from cranky, distracted, impulsive kids, researchers believe too little sleep can also affect Brain Development, Growth and the Immune System.  Lack of sleep can cause Depression, Anxiety and Stress.   It can lead to higher Risk of Injury and Weight issues among other things. Check out the links below for additional information on these topics.

The easiest way to improve your child’s sleep (and yours’s for that matter) is the create a solid routine. Strong routines help kids know exactly what to expect. Routines have led to increased cooperation, improved behavior, more self-confidence, security, and kids with strong routines experience less stress. It sounds easy enough, but as a parent I can attest that bedtime routines can be easier said than done. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of common tips for better sleep.


Common Tips for Better Sleep

  • Limit foods and drinks that contain caffeine. These include some sodas, candies and other common snacks especially in the afternoon or evening.
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night (even on the weekends); this helps your body get into a routine. Wake up at the same time every morning.
  • Follow a bedtime routine that is calming, such as taking a warm bath. According to Cornell University Medical College, a nighttime drop in core temperature increases one’s chances of falling asleep and sleeping more deeply.
  • Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable place to rest. Sleep in a dark room that is not too hot or too cold. Keep it simple. Bedding and one security item (a stuffed animal or favorite blanket) are enough. Additional toys provide extra sources of distraction at a time when we don't want her to be distracted.
  • Your routine should include quiet activities that occur in the same order every night. For example, put pajamas on, brush teeth, go to the bathroom, give goodnight hugs, and read one book. It is important that this routine remains the same every night because the routine cues your child it’s time to sleep.
  • Your brain begins preparing for sleep about two hours before bed time. Give yourself time to wind-down without gadgets.
  • Spend non-sleep time out of your bedroom. Your bed is for sleeping- not for playing video games, talking on the phone, doing homework etc.
  • Don't have a TV in your room. Research shows that kids who have one in their rooms sleep less.
  • Don't watch scary TV shows or movies close to bedtime because these can sometimes make it hard to fall asleep.
  • Try essential oils for sleep. Researchers found that a blend of sleep-promoting essential oils worked effectively to improve both sleep quality and quality of life. 
  • Since Himalayan salt lamps release negative ions into the air, it encourages a relaxing atmosphere for sleep, and helps to reduce anxiety. The calming dim light from the salt lamp helps promote sleepiness. 

Not sure if your kiddo is getting enough sleep? A panel from the National Sleep Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Council revised the recommended sleep ranges for all six children and teenage groups. A summary of the new recommendations include:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

In honor of Sleep Awareness Week, Lowcountry Therapy will be holding a Pajama Day, Friday, March 15th.  Wear your favorite PJ’s and let’s focus on getting some sleep!

To learn more, check out the National Sleep Foundation’s website, http://sleepfoundation.org and follow #YourDayBeginsWithSleep 


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