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Children and sleep: sweet dreams, strong immunity at bedtime

3 mins to read Jun 27, 2023

Getting enough quality sleep is essential to your child’s mental and physical health, not to mention that it makes your life as a parent easier when the kids are sleeping better.

If your little one has ever had a bad night, you’ll know that it’s difficult for both of you to concentrate or focus on things the next day, emotions usually run high, and patience runs low.

So, beyond the obvious, why is sleep important for your pre-schooler?

Adequate sleep is about more than not feeling tired, sleeping has a direct impact on a child’s cognitive and emotional functioning, influencing their ability to concentrate, interact and learn.

In adults, a lack of sleep impacts creativity, emotional response, problem-solving, and decision-making, but we’ve already matured in our development of these skills and after a good night we’re able to focus again. But for children who are still learning these skills and building foundations, the effects are further reaching.

Sleep and the immune system

Getting enough quality sleep also supports a child’s immune system, because when we rest, our body has time to recover from the strains of the day, get rid of germs collected during the day, and process what our minds and muscles have experienced. The body also releases hormones that help fight infection.

In short, sleep deprivation makes children (and you) more likely to get sick. Which is why it makes sense that your usually energetic kiddo just wants to sleep when they’re sick. Their body is telling them it needs time to recover.

Sleep hygiene for a good night’s rest

What you do during the day and before you go to sleep can affect your quality of sleep. Sleep hygiene refers to practicing healthy habits and setting up a child’s sleeping environment for better sleep.

Getting kids to bed can be a challenge, but there things you can do to promote a calm night of sleep for your child (and you):

✔ Consistency is key

Stick to the same bedtime every day, even on weekends. Predictability will help with the transition to bedtime.

✔ Start the digital detox at least 1 hour before bed

Turn off the TV and any other screens to limit the distractions so things can start calming down.

✔ Follow the same routine before bed

The familiarity of knowing what’s coming and in what order (e.g. bathing, brushing teeth, putting on pyjamas, reading a story) can help them settle.

✔ Set the stage

The space where they sleep can have a big impact on their sleep. Make sure the temperature makes it comfortable enough to snuggle up and that there aren’t any noise- or light distractions.

✔ Check in and connect before bed

Focusing your attention on them instead of on ‘getting to sleep’ can help combat separation anxiety. That extra cuddle might just make them feel more relaxed and get you a bit more me-time.