As a new school year begins, parents may be facing the problem of how to get their kids to go to bed at a reasonable hour. A solution: Kids will go to sleep if they understand why it’s important, studies have found.
The New York Times reports that several studies have linked sleep education to the development of healthy sleep and bedtime routines for adolescents. In one study, low-income preschool children and their parents received education concerning the benefits of sleep, how much sleep children need, and how to develop healthy bedtime routines. This resulted in children getting an average of 30 additional minutes of sleep a night.
An earlier study found that adolescents who participated in a “sleep smart” program designed to educate them about the benefits of sleep went to bed earlier and slept longer on week nights.
Extra sleep is extremely important for the following day. In addition, numerous studies have shown that getting adequate sleep is an important component to academic success.
How Much Sleep Do Kids Need, and Why?
Children between the ages of 5 and 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep every night, experts believe. That’s a lot of time, especially when considering the early start time of many schools. Experts have found that sleep helps us to remember new information and to get rid of inconsequential information from the previous day, literally strengthening and resetting the memory.
Sleep is critical for healthy physical development and plays a role in our immune systems. To help children understand this, experts use the example of animals, explaining that animals need sleep in order to do their best the following day.
Develop Healthy Bedtime Routines
Teaching parents and children to develop healthy bedtime routines is an important aspect of the sleep education conducted in the sleep studies. This can include preparing for bed 30 to 45 minutes in advance, performing hygiene-related routines, such as brushing your teeth, reading sleep-related stories, singing sleep-related songs, and even dressing dolls and stuffed animals in pajamas. Such routines can help children to wind down and prepare their bodies and minds for the all-important act of sleep.