How Much Sleep Do You (And Your Kids) Need?
Sleep habits and your health are inextricably linked. Your daily routine influences your quality of rest, and your sleep schedule and bedtime habits affect your mental sharpness, performance, emotional well-being and energy level.
Deep, restorative sleep is also deeply personal. You may go through some trial and error before finding a routine that works for you. Start with these foundations for healthy sleep:
- Aim for 8 hours: Most adults function best with at least eight hours of sleep, but 40 percent of Americans get less than the minimum recommended seven.
- Bring back the bedtime: A regular sleep schedule will help you get in sync with your natural circadian rhythm. A consistent morning wake time may be even more important in aligning your sleep with the 24-hour cycle.
- Let the light in: Exposure to natural light during the day keeps melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, aligned with your cycle.
- Stay away from screens: Television, computer or backlit device screens can suppress melatonin, so avoid devices at night or around bedtime.
- Shoot for 65 degrees: A room that’s too hot or too cold can interfere with sleep; aim for “slightly cool.”
- Stay healthy during the day: Avoid eating big meals and drinking lots of liquids before bed. The former can keep you up, while the latter may wake you up in the middle of the night.
- Establish boundaries: Your bed is for sleeping — any other activities (like work) can send the wrong message to your brain when it’s time to wind down.
Better Sleep for the Whole Family
Healthy sleep habits can also help guide your parenting techniques. As your child ages, the amount of sleep his or her body needs will change. Children develop better sleep habits with firm (not rigid) routines in their lives. Plan yours around these strategies for healthy sleep:
- Set a good example with your own healthy sleep habits.
- Set a bedtime and morning wake time and stick to them. Adjusting bedtime as punishment or reward can deliver the wrong message about sleep; the bedroom should be a safe spot associated with sleep and not discipline.
- Practice a calming bedtime routine, with story time for younger children and reading or listening to mellow music for older kids.
- Limit caffeine consumption, technology and stimulating activities before bedtime.
How much sleep does your child need? Consult our infographic for recommended sleep by age — with tips for you, too.