Does your kid get plenty of sleep? Probably not! In fact, studies show that 65 percent of children don't get enough sleep. So, here's how to guarantee sound sleep, courtesy of First magazine:
- For kids under a year old: the biggest sleep stealer is: needless nighttime nursing. Almost 25 percent of infants sleep fewer than 6 straight hours. Dr. Jodi Mendell at the Sleep Disorders Center says that's because babies are usually fed every time they cry, conditioning them to wake up at specific times. The solution: White noise. Tune the radio to the static between AM stations. A recent study found it helped 40 percent of wake-prone babies to sleep through the night on the first try. And within 6 months, every infant in the study slept through the night. Why? The muffled sounds mimic noises heard in the womb.
- Then, 20 percent of kids between 1 and 5 years old wake up during the night. So, lots of parents cuddle their kids until they nod off again. But that trains them to fall asleep only around mom or dad. Sleep expert Dr. Gary Freed suggests turning out the light and leaving the room before they fall asleep.
- But if your child balks, offer an incentive for falling asleep on their own for 3 nights in a row. Like stickers, or a trip to the zoo. Kids tend to meet short-term challenges when a reward is at stake. And 3 nights is all it usually takes for a new sleep pattern to take hold.
- Finally, when it comes to sleep problems: 80 percent of elementary school kids struggle to stay awake in class. Why? Evening activities like watching TV or playing video games exposes them to light, tricking their body into thinking it's daytime. That's from Dr. Michael Smolensky, author of The Body Clock Guide to Better Health. But since your kids probably won't go for turning off all light-emitting machines two hours before bedtime, try this: Expose them to bright light for an hour after they wake up. It'll reset the body clock so kids get sleepy earlier, and are more willing to go to bed.