Prepare your child's sleeping schedule

19 October 2019

Prepare your child's sleeping schedule

The practice of sleep hygiene through good sleep habits help children achieve a good sleep cycle. Practice from an early age can help children grow physically and mentally.

Sunway Medical Centre Consultant Paediatrician and Respiratory Physician, Dr Norzila Mohamed Zainudin said sleep hygiene is a habit that should be maintained consistently from infancy. There are facts that show that babies would sleep for several hours, but also be awake for several hours regardless of time and day.

“At infancy, babies cannot distinguish day and night. Therefore, it is a good time for parents to nurture their child's sleep schedule. To promote sleep hygiene, place your baby in a bright place during the day and in a dark place at night so that he or she can get used to the new environment,” she added.

Infants can only distinguish day and night when they are four months old but in preparation and training for good sleep practice, it is recommended for babies to be taught since birth.

“Babies less than six months old cannot sleep through the night without food and often awaken. This is normal and unavoidable, but I get worried when I see babies who only sleep at 10pm when they should be sleeping at 7pm or 8pm,” Dr Norzila said.

She added that the time to sleep and the period of sleep for each child is different according to age.

Infants aged four months to one year need between 12 and 16 hours of sleep, those aged one and two years need between 10 and 13 hours of sleep, and when they are aged six to 12 years, they need between nine to 12 hours of sleep a day. Meanwhile, teenagers aged 13 to 18 years need eight to 10 hours of sleep a day.

“Sleep hygiene is a practice before bedtime. To cultivate this practice, various habits before bedtime can be encouraged to get quality sleep. This because quality sleep has a positive effect on a child’s growth physically and mentally. For school-going children, they can be focused on learning without feeling sleepy and tired from not getting enough sleep,” Dr Norzila said.

Other methodss to promote sleep hygiene are baths with your baby, and massaging and caressing your baby. Also, feed your baby a few hours before bedtime and place him or her in a comfortable baby bed.

Make sure the lights are dimmed and the temperature in the room is between 24 and 25 degrees Celsius. Sleep can be stimulated by the state of the room whether it is dark and dim. Prepare night and day curtains to cultivate this practice.

“In other countries, this practice has long been carried out and fostered during infancy. Parents will put their baby to sleep by reading a book and being next to the child before they sleep. It is rarely practiced in Malaysia which is why you can see many children without their own sleep schedule. They sleep at any time and sometimes, their sleep is often disturbed,” Dr Norzila said.

Parents should avoid gadgets and electronic devices such as computers or mobile phones being near their children in the bedroom. Gadgets can stimulate their brain to remain active and when there is stimulation, children find it difficult to sleep and instead feel more energetic.

“There should be no physical activity two to three hours before bedtime. Exercise or activities on a gadget only stimulates the adrenal hormone, making it hard for kids to sleep,” Dr Nozila said.

In terms of nutrition, she advises to avoid eating three to four hours before bedtime and avoiding drinking soft drinks. Instead, it is best to consume nutritious drinks such as milk to stimulate sleep.

When a child is taught the practice of sleep hygiene, not only they get quality sleep, but they are physically and emotionally healthy.

“This practice needs to be done consistently. Make sure your child sleeps according to their schedule every day. If your child's bedtime is at 8pm, the latest he or she needs to go to bed is only 20 minutes after their sleeping schedule,” Dr Norzila said.

Source: Berita Harian