Survey: Bedtime routines prove important for young children's sleep

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The survey report shed light on the crucial role of bedtime routines children aged 1-6 years. The findings of the survey emphasized the significance of establishing consistent bedtime routines for children in this age group.

Bedtime routines prove important for young children's sleep | Image Credit: © Daxiao Productions

Bedtime routines prove important for young children's sleep | Image Credit: © Daxiao Productions

Sleep can have a significant impact on a child’s brain development and mood, and if insufficient, can lead to issues with the child as well as their parents/caregivers; however, studies have shown that having a bedtime routine helps children go to sleep easier, according to the authors of a recent report from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

The survey report shed light on the crucial role of bedtime routines in children aged 1-6 years. The survey findings emphasized the significance of establishing consistent bedtime routines for children in this age group.

The National Poll on Children’s Health surveyed a nationally representative group of parents to understand common sleep practices and challenges faced by families with young children. According to the report detailing the poll results, 90% of parents reported having a bedtime routine for their child, which may include activities such as brushing teeth (90%), reading bedtime stories (67%), bathing, having a drink of water or snack (47% and 23%, respectively), turning off devices (41%), praying (31%), and talking about their day (23%). Additionally, survey participants reported that their child’s bedtime habits consisted of holding a blanket or stuffed animal (47%), sucking a pacifier (7%), or sucking their thumb or fingers (6%).

One of the key benefits of a bedtime routine is that it provides children with a sense of comfort and security. This routine helps children and also allows for one-on-one time with parents, promoting a sense of connection and relaxation before bedtime, according to the authors.

The study also highlights the impact of the sleep environment on a child's sleep quality. Creating an encouraging sleep environment, such as a quiet room with minimal distractions, can significantly improve a child's ability to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.

In the survey, parents provided information on the environment in which their child falls asleep. This includes parents reporting that their child sleeps in their own room (47%), in a bedroom they share with siblings (21%), or sleeps half of the night in their own room and the other half with the parents (10%).

Moreover, 61% of parents reported that their child uses a night light at bedtime, 14% leave the door cracked, and 25% sleep in the dark.

Some parents have successfully implemented noise into their child’s bedtime routine. This includes 33% of parents reporting the use of white noise, 15% using soft music, 13% watching a video or TV show, meanwhile 39% reporting keeping the room quiet.

Despite these responses from parents, the authors advise parents to ensure that their child has their own bed in a quiet room, free from excessive noise or light that may disrupt sleep.

Further, the report addresses common challenges faced by parents, such as children experiencing anxiety or fears that interfere with their ability to fall asleep. Parents are encouraged to provide reassurance and compassion to address their children's worries, allowing them to express their concerns and offering a calming presence without disrupting the bedtime routine.

In cases where children wake up in the middle of the night, the authors advise parents to establish a consistent approach to help the child return to sleep. Strategies may include comforting the child, avoiding exposure to frightening content before bedtime, and ensuring that the child is not overtired, which can increase the likelihood of nightmares or disrupted sleep.

The study also highlights concerns about the use of melatonin as a sleep aid for young children. While some parents reported using melatonin to help their child sleep, the long-term effects of these products on a child's growth and development remain unknown. Parents are urged to consult with their pediatrician before considering melatonin as a sleep solution and to use the lowest effective dose under medical guidance.

Overall, the study underscores the importance of bedtime routines in promoting healthy sleep habits for young children. By establishing consistent routines, creating a conducive sleep environment, and addressing common challenges, parents can help their children achieve restful and rejuvenating sleep, supporting their growth and development.

Reference:

Getting Young Children to Bed: Sweet Dreams or Nightmare? C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. June 7, 2024. Accessed June 20, 2024. https://mottpoll.org/reports/getting-young-children-bed-sweet-dreams-or-nightmare

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