How many hours of sleep does a five-year-old need? Does the time at which a child sleeps matter? If, as a parent, you don’t know the answers, you are not alone. According to a new survey by the UK Sleep Council, most parents cannot answer these questions about children’s sleep and do not know the health ramifications of sleep patterns.
Mandy Gurney, an expert on children’s sleep, says that an increasing number of children spend their formative years “chronically sleep-deprived”. As a result they are not only tired and inattentive but are more prone to a spectrum of health problems including obesity, hypertension and clinical depression.
According to the UK Sleep Council a five-year-old, for example, needs 11 hours but many children of that age get far less. The effect becomes apparent in the classroom and beyond – but not always in obvious ways.
10 TIPS FOR CHILDREN’S BEDTIME
1. Have a set sleep time.
2. Try to maintain a regular temperature and limit external noise.
3. Encourage kids to read a half an hour before bed as a way to relax.
4. Remove distractions from the bedroom such as electronic devices.
5. Have a routine, and repeat the same things each night – bath, bed, dim lights, read stories then light off.
6. Try to alleviate fear of the dark; a night-light often helps.
7. Diet: avoid caffeine, sugary treats and overeating close to bedtime.
8. Ensure your child has regular exercise and they’ll be more tired at the end of the day.
9. Praise your kids if they keep to the rules