Getting a good night's sleep: the importance of helping your kids develop good sleeping habits

Posted at 1:17 PM, Jun 24, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — As kids all over Western New York wrap up the school year and head into their summer vacations, many will start relaxing their sleeping schedules.

But that could have major impacts on their overall health.

In fact, according to the CDC, children need much more sleep every night than adults do. The chart below shows the CDC's guidelines for each age group's respective sleep needs.

Getting your children to sleep anywhere from nine to 14 hours may sound tough, but it's doable, according to sleep consultant Kelli Wixom.

"It sounds like a lot of sleep compared to what parents expect," Wixom said in an interview on 7 Eyewitness News at 6 a.m. "Especially with early risers, that means you need an earlier bedtime for kids."

What can you do to help your kids get to sleep more easily?

Wixom says there are three tricks to making sure your children get the best sleep possible:

First, stress the importance of setting up and maintaining a bedtime routine.

"It needs to be the same thing every night," she said. "For younger kids, this could be as simple as taking a bath, putting their PJs on, brushing their teeth, reading a few books and getting back into their crib or their bed."

Having a set routine applies to older kids too. Wixom says if they have trouble falling asleep, you can include things like journaling, yoga or even just talking with your kids about their day to help them wind down for the night.

Second, make sure your kids avoid electronic devices for a full hour before bedtime.

She also says keeping your kids' bedrooms dark is crucial to helping them fall asleep and stay asleep, even in the summertime when it stays light out later.

"Things like Blackout EZ curtains velcro right to your window, so it blocks out any light that might be coming in," she recommends as a means to keeping the room darker.

But it goes beyond just avoiding technology. She also says that limiting activities, like sports, after dinnertime and before bedtime can also help kids wind down for the night more easily. "Try to limit those to an '80-20% rule' where 80% of the time, you're home and ready for bed and 20% of the time you can go and have some fun," she said.

And third, make sure your kids go to bed at an appropriate time for their age.

Wixom says this will ensure they are getting the right amount of sleep.

If your children are having trouble staying asleep, she says it may be because your kids are too tired.

"A lot of parents don't understand that. They think they're just waking up for something else," she said. "If your child is going, going, going — especially for those younger ones — and they have those nighttime wake-ups, if they're up for an hour at a time, that shows me that they're overtired. So you'll want to adjust their bedtime even earlier."

You can learn more about Silver Moon Sleep Consulting and the help Wixom offers to parents by clicking here.