kid's sleep tips

Children’s Sleep Tips For A Restful Night

Children’s sleep plays a vital role in health outcomes for children. Unfortunately most school aged kids are getting less sleep as they progress though school. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following: 10-13 hours for ages 3-5, 9-12 hours for ages 6-12, 8-10 hours for ages 13-18.  While there are a number of strategies to help sleep, let’s go over a few things that may hinder sleep first. 

kid's sleep tips

What Should I Avoid? 

In 2006 adolescents reported having at least one electronic device in their bedroom. With the popularity of smart phones and tablets, it’s safe to say that number has increased. The problem with electronics is the emission of blue light. Blue light affects the secretion of melatonin which regulates your internal clock (24 hour cycle). Meletonin levels are highest at night and lowest during the morning. Blue light emitted from electronics at night will set back your internal clock delaying sleep and decreasing melatonin secretion when it’s most needed. 

TV shows, movies, and video games can increase emotional arousal which delays sleep and lowers sleepiness. In addition to emotional arousal, blue light screens will decrease melatonin levels. 

The last one is obvious, but try to limit caffeine after 12 PM (noon). This includes soft drinks, coffee, and energy drinks. 

Children’s Sleep Routine 

Set a schedule or routine for bedtime. This is the most important tip for kids and adults too. It’s best to keep a visual schedule for the whole family to see. The steps you choose will get your children relaxed and prepared for sleep. Routines can start with infants. Studies show that infants who had a bedtime routine reduced sleep latency and number of times and duration of night wakening. Routines can include bathing, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, reading a story, using the bathroom, and listening to calming music. Routines should be short and should be no longer than 1 hour. 

Temperature Control

Decrease the room temperature to 65-70 degrees. This is the temperature range for optimal sleep. Heat exposure increases wakefulness and decreases the amount of time spent in the stages of sleep where dreaming and deep-sleep occur. 

Darkness Is Your Friend

Keep the bedroom as dark as possible. As you know, light in your room can affect your melatonin levels. If you use a night light, go with a red night light. Red lights have the least effect on your internal clock. 

Do not eat or drink anything at least an hour before bed. Your body has to process anything you ingest,so if you eat or drink something before bed, your body will have to digest it. Also eating or drinking will increase risk of having to use the bathroom late at night. 

What Happens When Sleep is Optimized? 

Studies show that declarative memory is enhanced in children when recommended amounts of sleep are met. Declarative memory is the ability to remember facts or events.

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Blue blocking sleep

Sleep Improved by Reducing Blue Light

There are a myriad of reasons why people don’t get enough sleep. However; there are steps you can take to improve sleep, like reducing nightly water intake and turning down your thermometer. Another step to consider is wearing blue light blocking glasses.
Blue Light and Sleep Cycle

Your circadian rhythm is a 24 hour cycle that is affected by sunlight and temperature. Normally, you get sleepy at night because your body naturally drops in temperature and blue light exposure is reduced. Reduced light exposure means increased levels of naturally occurring melatonin. Melatonin makes you sleepy.

glasses for eye protection blue light
If blue light from the sun reduces melatonin levels, you don’t want any blue light exposure after sunset. Since the invention of streaming services, smart phones, and tablets blue light exposure from electronics is ample. When using electronics at night, you disrupt many physiological processes including decreasing melatonin levels. Luckily, you can block blue light.

Blue Light Blocking and Sleep

In a recent study, participants wore blue blocking glasses 3 hours before bedtime for two weeks. Results showed a 58% increase in night time melatonin levels. Also per sleep questionnaire, participants slept better, fell asleep faster, and increased sleep time for 24 minutes. How many times have you hit the 5 minute snooze button?

You should be thinking to yourself, “Where do I find these special glasses?” Well the color of the lenses are the most important. The lenses should have a amber tint to them. Amber does the best job of blocking blue light. Links to glasses here and here.

For more information about Structural Chiropractic in Birmingham, Alabama, click here.

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