Like all healthy habits, learning proper sleep hygiene should start at a young age and continue for life. In honor of May being designated National Sleep Better Month, here are a few tips to ensure that you and your family all get a better night’s sleep.
- Sleep schedule. Sleep schedules (bedtime and wake-up times) should be consistent. There should not be more than an hour’s difference in bedtime and wake-up times between week nights and weekend nights.
- Bedtime routine. Children should have a 20- to 30-minute bedtime routine that is the same every night. The routine should include calm activities, such as reading a book or talking about the day.
- Bedroom. Bedrooms should be comfortable, quiet, dark and cool (less than 75°F). For kids, a nightlight is fine, as a completely dark room can be scary for some children. Parents: Avoid using your child’s bedroom for time out or other punishment. You want your child to think of the bedroom as a good place, not a bad one.
- Snack. A light snack before bed is a good idea for kids. Heavy meals within an hour or two of bedtime, however, may interfere with sleep.
- Caffeine. Avoid caffeine in any form – such as soda, coffee, iced tea and chocolate – for at least three to four hours before bedtime.
- Evening activities. The hour before bed should be a quiet time for everyone, especially kids. Children should not get involved in high-energy activities, such as rough play or playing outside, or stimulating activities, such as computer and video games.
- Television. Keep the television set out of your bedroom since it’s easy to develop the bad habit of “needing” the television to fall asleep. This is even more important for children because it is also much more difficult to control your child’s television viewing if it is in the bedroom.
- Naps. Very long naps or too many naps should be avoided, as too much daytime sleep can result in sleeping less at night. Regular naps for children should be geared to your child’s age and developmental needs.
- Exercise. Your family should spend time outside every day and get daily exercise – it helps you get regular sleep!
Mount Nittany Health has a team of physicians specializing in helping patients find the cause of and determine appropriate treatment for sleep disorders that impact daily life. To learn more about Mount Nittany Health’s Sleep Management Program, visit the Sieg Neuroscience webpage or call 814.231.7277.