Healing Slumber: The Importance of Sleep for Children and Adults
The amount of sleep that adults and children need may vary somewhat, but research has found
that restful sleep is necessary to stay healthy, mentally sharp, and positive. It’s especially
important for children, whose brains are still in a developmental state. Kids who don’t get
enough sleep are more likely to exhibit negative behaviours, make unsafe and unhealthy
decisions, and have trouble concentrating in school. Well-rested children are better-equipped to
learn new tasks and process information at a high rate and feel more confident in the classroom.
Adults who suffer from insomnia or some other sleep disorder may lack mental acuity and
patience, and they may suffer from mood swings. Getting sleep is a challenge for adults and
children alike, but there are a number of strategies that can make the process a little easier.
One way to impress the importance of sleep on children is to set a regular nap and bedtime
schedule. Having set sleep times makes it easier for children’s bodies to get accustomed to the
natural rhythm of sleeping and waking. Limit naps to 30 minutes, but try to prevent kids from
napping too close to bedtime. Napping is a necessity for younger children, whose bodies develop
at a high rate, though older children can benefit from napping as well.
Minimize Screen Time
This can be a difficult one to achieve for parents of kids who play video games for hours every
day and spend the rest of the time texting and Facetiming. However, reducing the time children
are exposed to TV, computer, and smartphone screens — especially as bedtime nears — can
have a positive effect at bedtime. The light emitted by screens confuses the brain, making it think
it’s time to get up and impeding the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. So, it’s
important (for adults as well as children) to keep all screens in the bedroom turned off at night.
Make sure kids turn off computers and handheld devices at least one hour before bed.
Establish a Routine
Like adults, children benefit from following a pre-bedtime routine every night. This should
include relaxing activities that help a child feel sleepy and ready for bed. Try reading a bedtime
story, or give your child a warm bath or a glass of warm milk. Avoid vigorous play,
roughhousing, or any kind of stimulating activity during your child’s bedtime routine.
Quiet and Dark
Adults who suffer from sleep problems may need to reassess their sleep space. A bedroom that’s
too bright and noisy can make it very difficult to get restful, restorative sleep. Turn off all TVs
and computers, make sure your window shades are effective at blocking out the light. Also,
consider using a noise machine or white noise app to drown out any intrusive external sound.
And take a good hard look at the color of your bedroom walls. If your bedroom walls feature red,
yellow, or other bright shades, repainting them with soft pastel or earth tone-based colors can
make a bedroom much more comfortable sleep-friendly.
Regular exercise is important for adults and children alike and makes it easier to fall asleep at
night. Taking the family dog for a walk or a run at a nearby park is beneficial for both children
and their parents. For little ones, just expending that pent-up energy (as only kids can do) is
usually enough to facilitate the sleep process.
Adults and children need plenty of sleep to stay healthy and perform well during the day. Kids
need lots of sleep during their formative years, so it’s especially important to set a consistent nap
and bedtime schedule. As we age, sleep continues to play an important role in our mental and
physical health, and in maintaining a healthy sense of well-being.