The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on our sleep -- including how children are sleeping.
Sleep is so vital to overall health and how we function during the day, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the following guidelines for children:
- 10 to 13 hours of nightly sleep for kids ages 3 to 5
- 9 to 12 hours for kids ages 6 to 12
- 8 to 10 hours for teens
If your child or teen is not sleeping enough, CNN spoke to child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist Dr. Neha Chaudhary, who shared tips on how to help your child (and yourself!) sleep better during the pandemic.
Create a consistent bedtime routine - Going to bed at the same time each night (and try to keep it consistent on weekends too) will help the body's internal clock stay on schedule and the brain will associate feeling sleepy with the pre-bed routine.
Wind down an hour before bed - This means not viewing screens and using devices. Instead of watching a show or playing on a tablet, Dr. Chaudhary suggests reading, a puzzle, or telling stories.
No screens in the room during bedtime - In addition to being a temptation to stay awake, the blue light emitted by devices sends a signal to the brain to stay awake.
Create an optimal sleep environment - Dr. Chaudhary suggests making a child's bed cozy, inviting (with plenty of their favorite stuffed animals), dark, and remain at a cool temperature.
Cut back on food or drink an hour before bed - Avoiding this can help the body not produce a burst of energy from food being digested and processed, as well as possible stomach issues and extra trips to the bathroom.
A bed should be for sleep only if possible - A child's bed should be meant for sleep as much as possible and Dr. Chaudhary suggests limiting time spent in bed doing things like homework and play.
Be a good sleep role model - One of the best ways to help kids sleep better is modeling good sleep habits for the entire family and make the getting ready for bed routine something everyone does together.