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Posts Tagged ‘Bedtime’

Turn off the tech early so kids get a great night’s sleep

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CHILDREN’S tech obsession can be hard enough for parents to deal with during the day – but new evidence suggests they should be concerned about the effect it’s having on kids at night too.

Research shows that the 40% of children aged between six and 11 years who use mobile phones, laptops or tablets in the hours before bedtime are getting around 20 minutes less sleep a night than kids who don’t use tech in the run-up to bedtime. So children who use tech before bed every night could end up with a sleep debt of around 121 hours a year.

The research, led by cognitive developmental psychologist Dr Anna Weighall from the University of Sheffield, in conjunction with the University of Leeds and Silentnight, questioned 1,000 parents, and also found that on average, children slept 60 minutes less if technology devices were in the room, compared to those who slept in a tech-free zone.

“Technology can benefit our lives in so many ways,” says Dr Weighall, “but parents need to be aware of the negative impact it can have on children when it comes to sleep.

“The presence of tablets and phones in a child’s bedroom, even if they’re switched off, can leave them feeling unsettled.

“A 20-minute sleep debt may not seem a lot, but if you look at it over a year, or even throughout their childhood years, you begin to see the significant impact of a tech-filled bedtime routine. Having clear rules about the use of technology close to bedtime is a small change that has the potential to make a really big difference to our children’s daily lives.”

When light levels drop in the evening, our circadian timer switches on and stimulates the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, but the use of tech before bed disrupts this natural process, explains Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, Silentnight’s sleep expert.

Dr Ramlakhan says screens on phones and tablets emit blue light which suppresses the production of melatonin and stimulates production of the chemical dopamine, which makes us feel alert.

“By establishing a regular sleep routine, without mobiles or tablets, children will sleep better, perform better at school, and be happier and healthier as a result,” she stresses.

“Concentration and the ability to learn can be severely affected by lack of sleep, so I urge children and parents to put down technology at least 90 minutes before bedtime.”

The research also showed one in 10 parents feel unable to ensure their child gets the sleep they need. However, child sleep specialist Andrea Grace has these tips to help school-age children get a good night’s sleep: TEN LITTLE STEPS TO THE LAND OF NOD SCREENS OFF. Turn all screens off at least half an hour before bath time and don’t have TVs or computers in the bedroom.

ROUTINE IS VITAL. A consistent bedtime routine will help your child feel safe, and ready to sleep, although Andrea warns that parents with more than one child must be organised.

EARLY HOMEWORK. Try to get homework done well before bedtime. It’s nice to have quiet time together before bed, chatting or reading.

NO STIMULANTS. Avoid fizzy drinks, chocolate or other foods containing stimulants. Encourage your child to have a nourishing evening meal which is rich in carbohydrate and protein.

GIVE THEM A COMFY BED. Make sure your child’s bed and mattress are comfortable, and they have the right amount of bedding for the room temperature.

ATTENTION PLEASE! During the preparation for bed, give your child or children your fullest possible attention, and try not to take telephone calls.

“As well as feeling safe, children need to feel loved in order to sleep well,” explains Andrea, “so show your child how important they are by giving your time, even if that time is being shared with siblings.”

 

This article was written by Lisa Salmon from Derby Evening Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

What To Do When a Child Can’t Fall Asleep

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Bedtime can be difficult for everyone, but a parent’s job is really quite simple:  put the child in bed.

The rest of it – the falling asleep part – is all on the child. Although it can be hard when falling asleep is out of your control, there are things you can do to help when your child can’t fall asleep.

Routines are critical

We all know routines are important in life. Routines get athletes ready to perform, they get singers ready for the stage, and they can also help anyone from infant age to adulthood get ready for bed. But it’s not just the snack, bath, and story that is part of an important nightly ritual. You must also consider the daily routine that can affect a child’s ability to fall asleep.

Is he getting enough physical activity during the day? Don’t let weather or a busy schedule be an excuse for avoiding exercise. Get your kids moving whether it’s inside or outside in order to keep their bodies active. Remember how fast they crash after a day at the zoo or amusement park? That can happen every single day if you keep them active, even in moderate amounts.

Is your child getting proper nutrition? You are what you eat isn’t just a saying, it’s reality, so the better the fuel you’re putting into your child’s body, the better it will help him sleep. Similarly, caffeine is a stimulant drug, and should always be avoided when it comes to children.

Start everything earlier

If the nighttime drill lasts long into the evening, there’s no point in ruining your sleep too, so start the process a whole lot earlier. It doesn’t mean you have to publicly announce that everyone’s going to bed earlier, it just means you’re going to get an earlier start on things. If your child doesn’t fall asleep for an hour after leaving the room at 8:00 p.m., maybe you need to leave the room at 7:30 p.m. instead. Find the method that works best for you.

In order to kick all of this off, you may need to shortchange your child some much-needed sleep by waking him earlier in the morning, just until the new system pays off and starts working. It may seem cruel to do so, but getting your child’s body in a better rhythm for a stronger sleep schedule will help everyone in the home. 

Follow your instincts

I’ve read from experts who warn not to sing, snuggle, or coddle children to sleep. But I also know from experience that children sleep better with an adult next to them, so when all else fails and you’re at the end of your rope, do what you think is best for your child. After all, it’s not like you’ll be caving in and holding their hand until they’re asleep when they’re 16 years old.

Your child wants to be comfortable, and you do, too. So you’ll have to find your own proper balance between being firm, being comforting, and not giving in to every whim. Implementing a rewards system might offer just what you need in helping your child long-term.

Before you know it, you’ll all be sleeping like, well, you know.

 

This article was written by EverydayFamily from Everyday Family and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Four Ways to Help Children Fall Asleep

Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers four ways to help children fall asleep.twenty20_633d5703-2356-457f-8730-d07b63f9a0d7

  1. Improve the odds of bedtime going smoothly by not starting the lessons until the child reaches four to six months of age. Starting too early will teach your child to cry, not to sleep.
  2. Be patient and give the process time to work. It takes adults an average of 20 minutes to fall asleep, even though we’ve done it thousands of times, and that’s when our sleep hygiene is working reasonably well. Many adults, especially parents, need a bit more time to fall asleep. Keep in mind that children may experience similar challenges.
  3. Some crying is nearly universal at bedtime. Putting your child to bed when already asleep to avoid the crying might cause him to be disoriented when he wakes up in the night, which he will surely do. You’ll be up yet again because he hasn’t learned how to put himself back to sleep, just to cry for you.
  4. Through your routine, children will learn what happens next, so put them down when they get drowsy, sit down near them, using occasional light touch and your voice to soothe when the pacifier pops out and they have to put out the effort to find it, which is just what you want to them to be able to do in the middle of the night. It’s the wise parent who then says goodnight softly and leaves the room. Some crying may ensue, so wait for a few moments beyond what you think you can stand, then go back in briefly to reassure the child (and yourself) in the softest voice and touch you can manage. In a matter of weeks, research reassures us that your small student will be on the path to being able to fall back to sleep on his or her own.

Five Fun Ways to Limit Screen Time for Your Preschooler

Guest Post
by Amber O’Brien, on-site owner of The Goddard School located in Forest Hill, MD

I am an onsite owner of a Goddard School, an education-based franchise preschool, and my faculty and I recently noticed that one of the three-year-old students had become increasingly tired in the morning and started having frequent meltdowns in the classroom. She had also become more difficult to wake after naptime. Communication between the parents and the teachers produced the reasons for the child’s change of behavior. The parents revealed that they had recently started giving an iPad to their daughter at bedtime and were letting her put herself to sleep. We explained the negative effects of too much screen time, especially at night, and encouraged the parents not to hand their child a device at bedtime.

In our increasingly technological world, devices are here to stay. Set boundaries and limits now so Preschool Computerdevices become teaching tools instead of detracting from precious interactions with family members. The introduction of smaller devices creates more opportunities to increase children’s screen time and a greater temptation for tired parents to hand their children a device. In parenting, the easy thing is often not the best thing, and we must always think about the long-term results of our choices.

As a parent of three teenage children, I know firsthand how difficult it is to stop devices from slowly creeping into our home life. My advice is to set boundaries now, because when your children are older and have cell phones, it will become increasingly difficult to monitor how much they use their devices. Habits children learn as preschoolers can pay dividends long into the future. Setting boundaries that you and your spouse both agree on and providing many fun and enriching alternative activities may be the key to a happy home where the children are not overtired and healthy relationships can grow.

You may be thinking to yourself, “I already know that too much screen time is not healthy, but what I need is some practical help. How can I limit my child’s screen time, and what are some fun activities we can do with our preschooler at home?” I believe the answer is balance. At The Goddard School, we provide a variety of interactions for the children so screen time does not distract them from other fun and stimulating activities. Consistency between the home and school is very important, and the expert and professional teachers in our classroom environments can teach us all a lot.

  1. Limit your child to only 15 minutes of screen time.

    Students at The Goddard School receive a limited amount of screen time. The tablets and computers in the classroom are teaching tools and only contain educational apps and games. Since students must take turns in the classroom, the students quickly learn that they cannot use the computer or tablet for more than 15 minutes.I suggest setting your phone timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, or a few minutes before it goes off, remind your child that he or she should be finishing the game. Setting a 15-minute limit teaches your child that individuals are in control of electronic devices and not the other way around. Remember that these educational games are great teaching tools, but they should never replace the human interaction of snuggle time at night, and you shouldn’t use them to end a tantrum or to babysit a child.

  2. Make bedtime the most special time of the day.

    Not only was using the tablet depriving the above-mentioned three-year-old of enough sleep at night, but it also deprived her of precious snuggle time and the experience of sharing books with a parent. While educational games are a wonderful supplement for helping your child learn basic skills, they can never replace the joy of sharing a funny or touching book.Studies have recently shown that the blue light on computer screens interferes with the melatonin that helps people drift off to sleep. A sleep-deprived child is not a happy child. According to Charles Czeisler from the Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts, “Children become hyperactive rather than sleepy when they don’t get enough sleep, and have difficulty focusing attention, so sleep deficiency may be mistaken for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”1

    Ensuring that your child has enough sleep will give him or her a better chance for a more successful day with better behavior. Spend a little extra time at night to ensure that your child receives a warm relaxing bath, a chance to debrief and lots of snuggle time, which may help encourage a happier morning the following day. Make bath time fun with lots of bath toys and foam letters, and make story time special by asking questions and use different voices as you read to your preschooler.

    Don’t allow a TV in your child’s room, and take away all devices before bath and story time. Bedtime should be a time to unwind and slowly prepare for a deep refreshing sleep.

  3. Create an imaginative play area in your home.

    At The Goddard School, the students have so many fun, hands-on activities available that they are excited to start the next activity when their tablet or computer time ends. Look around your child’s classroom and take mental notes. Try to include similar materials and activities in an accessible area of your home to encourage your child’s imaginative play.Collect costumes, clothing and accessories your child can use to play dress-up. Create a play kitchen where your child can imitate you as you prepare dinner. Include clean boxes, containers and utensils from your kitchen. Add an easel and art supplies to a craft area. You could also create areas with a cash register so your child can learn about money, matching sets of cards for playing memory games to increase concentration, coloring books, clay or kinetic sand.

    Provide bins with different types of manipulatives, such as puzzles, LEGO, Lincoln Logs and other building materials. I would often give my children old magazines and child-safe scissors, and then I would watch as they happily cut out pictures and letters while developing their fine motor skills. Just as your child’s teachers put out different centers each day, take out new items and put away other items to pique your child’s interest. The more non-electronic activities you have available, the easier it will be for your child to hand over the tablet or turn off the TV.  If an adult comes down to the child’s level and plays with the child, the chances of a tantrum-free transition increases.

  4. Make meal times meaningful.

    Meal times should be about more than putting nutrients in our bodies. They should also be a time to reconnect with our family members and talk about one another’s days. At The Goddard School, teachers sit at the table with the children and eat with them. The children are encouraged to wait until everyone has their food, and they learn good table manners from watching their teachers.Make sure you read the daily activity report and use this information to ask your child about his or her day. Ask about the book that the teacher read, the fun outdoor activity or the messy process art activity. By asking questions about your child’s day, your child simultaneously learns lifetime lessons about communicating and extends the learning of the school day. Some families have each member describe a high and a low for the day. This enriching exercise helps all the family members learn to listen and share the successes and challenges of their days. I often ask my family, “What was something good that happened today?” I want my children to realize that each day has some good in it.

    At meal times, turn off all TVs, cell phones and other devices and give all of your attention to one another.

  5. Use physical touch and exercise.

    Preschoolers need touch and fun physical interactions with the people who love them. Children, like adults, receive and perceive love partly through physical touch and quality time.For our monthly icebreaker at our last PTO meeting in January, I asked the parents to describe their favorite non-electronic activity to do with their preschoolers. Parents smiled while describing playing hide and go seek and tickle monster with their children. One parent has set up tunnels to create an obstacle course in the basement, and the entire family goes downstairs to run races and play together.

    Children love to dance, so try putting on some dance music and dancing together as a family after dinner every night. Try playing a variety of musical genres as we do at school. The children’s favorites include “Let It Go” from Frozen, the dance song “I Like to Move It” and, of course, the chicken dance and the hokey pokey. A fun game of freeze dance, where everyone freezes when the music stops, teaches concentration and produces lots of giggles and smiles.

    Play classic games, such as duck, duck, goose; ring around the rosy; and London Bridge. All of these games include physical touch and whole body movement, and they provide valuable social interactions.

One of our most important goals as parents is to build healthy, close relationships with our children that will last a lifetime. We want our children to have more memories of reading bedtime stories and playing hide and go seek with us and fewer memories of us texting on our cell phones. Show your child that you are in control of all media and devices, provide alternate activities and choose to set boundaries, especially for meal times and bedtime.

 

1 Czeisler, C. (May 23, 2013). Perspective: Casting light on sleep deficiency. Nature, 497, S13. doi:10.1038/497S13a

Sleeping Through the Night

A good night’s sleep is essential for both you and your baby.  The sooner your little one is sleeping well through the night, the sooner you can return to a beneficial sleep routine as well.

Newborns tend to wake frequently during the night until they reach about three months of age.  This is when most babies begin to sleep for longer periods of time and develop a regular sleep pattern.  By six months of age, most babies are able to sleep through the night, which can be anywhere from five hours on.

To help your baby reach the “sleeping through the night” goal, be sure to establish consistent bedtime and naptimes.  Also, develop a bedtime routine that will be repeated in the same order, at the same time each night.  Consistency is the key in helping your baby develop a healthy sleep pattern.  Find appropriate activities for your baby’s bedtime routine that will help her become calm and relaxed. If a certain activity, such as bathing, seems to be too stimulating, consider moving that activity to another time of day.

It’s also okay to wake your baby in the morning or rouse her from a nap if she is sleeping longer than you would like.  This will help her establish a healthy sleep schedule and to wake at the same time each day.

Putting your baby down to sleep when she shows signs of drowsiness, but is not yet asleep, will help her learn to fall asleep independently.  This is advantageous to helping her fall back to sleep if or when she wakes during the night.  Rather than crying for you to hold or feed her, she’ll be able to quietly fall back to sleep on her own.

Don’t be discouraged if these techniques take a while to work or don’t work for your baby.  Each baby’s needs are different and there are various sleep training techniques available.  Consult your baby’s doctor for other suggestions and remember to remain positive and consistent.