Just how important are a comfy bed and some screen-free wind down time in getting youngsters to sleep?
Very, a study review released Monday by the University of B.C. suggests.
According to UBC sleep expert and nursing professor Wendy Hall, those habits are all known as “sleep hygiene.”
The term encompasses everything from a cool and quiet sleeping environment to reading before bedtime to help kids unwind.
“Good sleep hygiene gives children the best chances of getting adequate, healthy sleep every day,” Hall said.
“Research tells us that kids who don’t get enough sleep on a consistent basis are more likely to have problems at school and develop more slowly than their peers who are getting enough sleep.”
Hall said new sleep guidelines recommend up to 16 hours of sleep for babies between four and 12 months and eight to 10 hours for teens up to 18 years old.
The review looked over 44 studies from 16 different countries. Overall, they encompassed 300,000 kids from North America, Europe and Asia.
Hall said the review found “extensive evidence” for limiting screen time just before bed time or at night when kids are supposed to be sleeping.
Researchers found that regular bedtimes, reading (books) before bed and self-soothing were key, especially for younger children.
But even older kids benefitted from set bedtimes.
“We found papers that showed that adolescents whose parents set strict guidelines about their sleep slept better than kids whose parents didn’t set any guidelines,” Hall said.
“Surprisingly,” Hall said the amount of caffeine kids drank just before bed didn’t matter, compared with the amount of coffee they drank throughout the day.
When researchers looked at studies from Asia, they saw negative links between how much sleep kids managed and the commute lengths and amount of homework students got each night.”
“With more children coping with longer commutes and growing amounts of school work, this is an important area for future study in North America,” Hall said.