Less scrolling, more sleeping: fostering healthy sleep habits for your child

Bend Health
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Getting enough quality sleep is essential for kids physical, mental, and emotional health because their bodies are rapidly growing and experiencing so many changes.

But as parents ourselves, we know that it’s not always easy to pull your child (or yourself!) away from scrolling on screens in order to prepare both the mind and body for a good night’s rest.

That’s why the team at Bend Health is here to help you better understand the essential nature of sleep so that you can establish healthy, realistic habits for your household.

Why sleep matters so much.

Improving sleep can have a huge impact on a child or teen’s overall health and well-being. Here are just a handful of awesome things sleep does:

  • Improves memory and concentration
  • Boosts immune system
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves mood
  • Increases athletic performance

So what happens if you don’t get enough sleep? Well, it can have quite a number of negative effects on your brain and body that can include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble remembering or using short-term memory
  • Reduced response times
  • Irritability in mood
  • Poor academic performance
  • Increased risk of poor health, including obesity and diabetes
  • Increased risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety

How screens affect sleep.

Our electronic devices with backlights, like cell phones, tablets, e-readers, and computers, emit short-wavelength light or what is also known as “blue light.” The thing about blue light is that it replicates daylight and tricks our bodies and brains into thinking that it’s still day time. Blue light also reduces the amount of time you spend in REM sleep and delays the natural production of the sleep hormone melatonin at night, making it more difficult to get quality rest.

To ensure your child or teen is getting their best night’s rest, it’s important to put away screens at least two hours before bed. We know this is easier said than done so read on for more tips on how to make it happen.

Healthy habits for a better night’s sleep.

Creating good sleep habits takes time and patience. To help you get started, we’ve put together these tips from our team of experts.

  • Model tech boundaries. Our kids are always watching, so show them that a good night’s sleep is important for everyone. Try making all of your bedrooms no screen zones. It can be helpful to set up a charging station in an area, like your kitchen or living room, so that everyone parks their devices before beginning bedtime routines.
  • Establish a nighttime routine. Having a bedtime routine can help your child wind down and prepare for sleep. Try keeping a consistent bedtime and include healthy habits like a bath or shower, teeth brushing, coloring, reading, or journaling.
  • Try relaxation techniques. Any form of calming mindfulness, like deep breathing before bedtime, can help your child settle down from the day. You can also use progressive muscle relaxation together, which involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group in your body to help reduce tension.
  • Write down worries. Kids and teens with nighttime anxiety can benefit from writing out what’s on their minds to help them fall asleep faster. Try having a notepad by their bed to jot down thoughts, to-do lists, or whatever else they are thinking before falling asleep.
  • Create a calming sleep environment. For optimal sleep, ensure your child’s bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark. You can use a white noise machine to block out distracting sounds and blackout curtains to cut down on sunlight or streetlamps.

Getting a good night’s rest will ensure that everyone in your family feels their best. We know implementing new habits isn’t always easy and some sleep struggles may require additional support, so know that you can always reach out to a mental health professional for help.

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