Quality sleep in children and teens aids in not only physical health, but mental health and well-being as well!
Most of us know how important sleep is to anyone … without enough sleep and without enough quality sleep, you can find yourself suffering the consequences, whether you realize it or not. You may not be sleeping soundly, and you may not be getting into the different types of sleep everyone needs (think REM sleep and dreaming – essential to our overall health).
Sleep is a basic human need – not just for our physical bodies, but also for our mental health.
But enough about you. What about your children and teens? Children ages 6 to 12 need 9 to 12 hours, and teens 13 to 18 need 8 to 10 hours of good quality sleep. (The average teen only gets 7 to 7.5 hours.)
A teen’s natural sleep hormone melatonin is produced later at night, so they may have a harder time falling asleep at a reasonable time. Since they must usually get up early for school, they may have unintended consequences like trouble concentrating and lower grades. If they are driving, they may be drowsy while doing so. They may experience anxiety and depression as a result – they may even have thoughts of suicide.
As for younger children, starting as early as 3 months of age, higher levels of melatonin are produced at night, and lower levels are secreted during the daytime. In spite of this, up to 25% of healthy children have insomnia, and for those kids with neurodevelopmental and psychological disorders, about 75% experience insomnia. Kids also have trouble focusing, they are often hyperactive, irritable, have poor memories, feel anxious and depressed, and experience learning difficulties. All of which are reflected in their school performance.
What can you do?
Everybody – including kids and teens – needs vitamin D. It may also be helpful to take iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, B vitamins, valerian, vitamin E, chamomile, and the amino acid theanine. Always work with a competent health care professional if you want to supplement with melatonin (even though you can purchase it over the counter).
Nix the soda, cakes, cookies, over-reliance on bread and pasta, etc. So, make sure you help your kids and teens dial back on the junk food. Also – read labels of products you purchase for your children – added chemicals for preserving or any other reason may be detrimental for their overall health, including their sleep patterns. If you want to purchase gummy vitamins please be aware that there is usually a significant amount of sugar in them, so these may not be the best choice.
However, if you improve the quality of their diets, especially in the salad and veggie department, you may be able to get most of these supplemental assists from the food itself!
Other tips for improving sleep are to turn off all screens at an earlier hour, make sure kids and teens get enough exercise, avoid eating close to bedtime, ensure bedrooms are dark, maintain a regular sleep schedule, avoid afternoon naps (or at least limit them to 15-20 minutes) as kids start getting older, limit caffeine intake (think chocolate, colas, coffee, etc.) and especially don’t eat or drink them at night. They’re stimulants! When summer break is coming to an end, and before school starts, begin setting an earlier-to-bed schedule.
If your child or teen seems troubled, and especially if they’re not talking to you about it, don’t hesitate to try some mental health counseling. You, as parents, can also take a look at your parenting style and see if you can improve your skills which may help your kids even more.
As always – have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Health and Wellness Online, LLC
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