Sleep is especially important for children’s growth, so if you're not certain how much sleep your kids should get, this article will teach you sleep tips for children. Make sure your children get adequate sleep to help your children grow physically, cognitively and mentally. Often, Hong Kong’s present, rigorous education system doesn’t allow as much time for children to rest as much as they should. We would like to encourage all parents to help their children develop good sleep hygiene that they can take to their adult life, and help elevate their sleep experiences by investing in quality mattresses. We’ve put together some resources to help you kick start the process of helping your children get better sleep! Read on to find out more about sleep tips for children and how to choose a mattress for your kids.

Table of Contents

  1. Benefits of Healthy Sleep for Children
  2. Ideal Bedtime and Average Sleep Duration for Children of Different Ages
  3. How to Build Healthy Sleep Habits for Your Children
  4. The Best Sleep Positions for Children
  5. Your Children’s Bedroom Environment is Important!
  6. How to Choose a Mattress for Children

1. Benefits of Healthy Sleep for Children

benefits of healthy sleep for children

Numerous studies have shown that children who regularly get enough sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. Here’s some of the important ways sleep helps your children grow:

  1.  

    Sleep encourages physical growth.

    Have you ever had mornings where you really thought your baby just got bigger overnight? And you’re probably right! Growth hormones are primarily produced and secreted during sleep. These hormones stimulate your children’s physical growth, cell reproduction, and cell regeneration. Make sure your children sleep enough to grow his bones and grow taller!
  2.  

    Sleep recharges the immune system and keeps children physically healthy.

    Well-rested nights keep the doctors away! During sleep, the body (both children’s and adults!) produces a protein called cytokines which helps battle infection, illness, and stress. Sleep also appears to protect children from high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and other heart-disease risk factors. Sufficient sleep could prevent C-reactive protein (a protein that is associated with cardiovascular disease) level from elevating in the body.

     

sleep promotes brain development

  1.  

    Sleep promotes brain development.

    According to a Canadian sleep study, children younger than the age of 3 who get less than 10 hours of sleep every night are more likely to develop language and reading problems. When babies and young children are sleeping, their brains are busy building and strengthening the connection between the left and the right sides of the brain. Having both brain symmetrical and well connected is key to maximizing children’s cognitive abilities.
  2.  

    Sleep helps mental and emotional development.

    Did you know: after just two nights of inadequate sleep, children experience less positive emotions in general? Tired children have more problems getting along with their peers due to the fact that they are more cranky, and more prone to anger, frustration, and temper tantrums. During sleep, areas of the brain that are responsible for emotional regulation interact. This interaction is vital because it helps children process and understand emotions. This means that children learn to control their emotions not just the next day, but every day!

sleep boosts children’s learning

  1.  

    Sleep increases attention span and boosts learning.

    Sleep deprived children can be impulsive and easily distracted, which makes being attentive more difficult. Furthermore, sleep is the prime time for the brain to absorb learned material. Research on lifelong memories suggests that during deep sleep stages, brain cells associated with learning get reactivated and facilitate the growth of new neural connections, which helps form long-term memories. So sleep helps your children achieve more at school!

     

2. Ideal Bedtime and Average Sleep Duration for Children of Different Ages

children ideal bedtime

Irregular bedtime hinders young children’s brain power. But how long and what time should your children sleep? Here are some suggestions:

Ideal Bedtime and Average Sleep Duration for Children of Different Ages
Children’s Age Recommended Hours of Sleep Ideal Bedtime Children’s Sleep Facts

Newborns (0-3 months)

14 to 17 hours (including naps)

N/A

Newborns do not have an established circadian rhythm (they don’t have a sense of day and night!). They typically sleep in short periods of two to four hours throughout day and night.

Infants (4-11 months)

12 to 15 hours (including naps)

5:30 to 7:00 pm

Infants’ circadian rhythms are developing. Regular naps and an earlier bedtime help infants get the sleep they need for significant physical and mental development. 

Toddlers (1-2 years)

11 to 14 hours (including naps)

6:00 to 7:30 pm

Most toddlers will take two naps (total nap time: around 1 to 3 hours) per day. Naps should not occur too close to bedtime, and bedtime should be 4 to 4.5 hours after their last nap.

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

10 to 13 hours (including naps)

6:00 to 8:00 pm

Typical preschoolers will take only one nap (around 1 to 2 hours), though many children at this age no longer want to nap. Children who don’t nap anymore will need an extra hour of sleep at night and should sleep on the earlier end of the ideal bedtime range.

School-aged Children (6-13 years)

9 to 11 hours

7:30 to 9:00 pm

There is increasing demand on time from school, and other extracurricular activities for children at this age. However, children are still experiencing enormous growth, are very active, and require a lot of sleep to help them achieve more in life and at school.

Teenagers (14-17 years)

8 to 10 hours

10:00 to 11:00 pm

Circadian rhythms shift after puberty, which makes teens want to go to bed after 11 pm and wake up later, and yet they have the earliest start times. Therefore, bedtime should be strictly enforced to make sure teens get enough sleep.*

 *Researchers found that later school start time showed improved grades and attendance. Their study revealed that adolescents did not stay up significantly later at night when school started later; instead, they slept in longer, a behavior that is consistent with their natural biological rhythm. While we have no control over school start-times, developing a habit to get enough sleep each night can have an impactful effect on the children’s academic performance and learning abilities.

3. How to Build Healthy Sleep Habits for Your Children

healthy sleep habits for children

A consistent sleep routine and a series of sleep habits act as cues or signals that sleep time is coming. Therefore, it is important to develop good sleeping habits for your children and we want to share with you how:

 

Sleep Tip 1: Set bedtimes and enforce limits for your kids

 

Set bedtimes should be strictly followed to help your children get enough sleep. Your younger children may experience separation anxiety and refuse to go to bed alone. So, what can you do to help your children overcome the fear of sleeping alone? You could encourage the use of a security object, such as a blanket or a stuffed animal. You could also offer to check on them only if they remain in bed and sleep as you close the bedroom door. For your older children, you should ensure lights out at set bedtimes and electronic devices are out of the bedroom so that there is no temptation for them to stay awake.

 

Sleep Tip 2: Establish bedtime rituals that help children unwind

 

Ensuring a soothing pre-sleep routine helps children relax and gives you an opportunity to bond with your children. For example, you could read bedtime stories with or to your children (depending on their age), but not anything too exciting or adventurous to arouse them. Listening to relaxing, meditative music also helps you and your children fall asleep easier and sleep better. The reason is that music has a direct effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, a system that is responsible for the stimulation of “rest-and-digest,” which helps the body relax and prepare for sleep.

Have you ever heard of keeping a “worry book” for your younger children? When your younger children raise issues from the day, you could encourage them to write or draw their worries or fears in the worry book. Writing out problems keeps anxiety and troubles off their minds, thereby helping them sleep better. Similarly, for your older children, we suggest that they keep a journal. Journaling, in the traditional pen and paper way, can help reduce stress, increase sleep time, and improve sleep quality. Specifically, a polysomnographic study (also called a sleep study) has shown that a simple to-do-list drafting for as short as 5 minutes could facilitate falling asleep. 

Another great way to loosen up the body and the mind is to practice yoga with your children. A short and simple yoga practice can help children stretch out and relax. Not only does it help calm their active minds and help them fall asleep faster, but it is also a great chance for you to spend time with your lovely children after a long day of work! Please feel free to check out our 8 minute kids yoga. You can also access other yoga videos for relaxation on our YouTube channel @hushhomeliving.

 

Sleep Tip 3: Use positive reinforcement on your kids

 

For preschoolers and school-aged children, you can try setting up a reward system, such as a sticker chart, could be an incentive for good sleep behavior. It is most effective when your children get immediate small rewards, like getting a sticker after having breakfast. You could set attainable goals with more challenging benchmarks implemented over time, such as sleeping on their own bed all night and get up at the same time every morning. 

 

Sleep Tip 4: Build daytime habits for your kids that support nighttime rest

 

Good lifestyle habits during the day often secures a restful night:

children pre-sleep rituals

  • Make sure your children only use the bed for sleep or pre-bedtime ritual. Do your children read textbooks or Netflix in bed? Doing activities other than sleeping in bed leads to subconscious association in your brain with those activities while you sleep, affecting your children’s sleep quality.
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends. Why? This maintains the body’s internal clock and can help your children wake up and fall asleep naturally! Teens generally should not need to sleep more than an hour past their usual wake up time. If they do, it implies that they’re not getting enough sleep during the week.
  • Keep your children from going to bed too full or hungry. Heavy meals within an hour or two before bedtime could keep children awake. However, hunger also keeps children up. Giving your children a healthy light snack, especially food rich in melatonin, is a good idea. Examples include milk, walnuts, almonds, bananas, and cherries.

4. The Best Sleep Positions for Children

safe infant sleep position

Did you know children of different ages benefit from different sleeping positions? For infants, back sleeping is the best sleep position for them and it is backed up by science: back sleeping reduces the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and studies have shown that this sleep position lowers the risk of choking. Babies are better able to clear their airways while sleeping on their back. Try to keep your infant on their back and remember not to keep the baby in place using pillows. This will block his airway if he turns at night and buries his face in them.

When your babies start growing up, they would also start to have a mind of their own and adapt to the sleep position they find most comfortable. As a parent, you should still encourage what’s better for them. For example, sleeping on the back keeps the head, neck, and spine aligned in a natural position which helps chronic conditions by reducing pressure and compression. Just be sure to use an adjustable pillow that supports your children’s head and neck. Likewise, side sleeping is a healthy sleep position. Not only does it help alleviate acid reflux, but it also helps the brain detox more efficiently. However, we don’t recommend sleeping on the stomach because it’s hard to keep the spine in a neutral position and it puts unnecessary stress on muscles and joints. 

5. Your Children’s Bedroom Environment is Important!

children bedroom environment

Sleep isn’t just about quantity, it's also about quality! Creating the perfect sleep sanctuary improves your children’s sleep tremendously. Let us share with you some top tips on how to help you create a restful bedroom for your children.

 

Sleep Tip 1: Decorate your kid’s bedroom with calming colors

 

Did you know that bedroom colors could impact sleep duration? A study found that shades of blue, yellow, and green helped sleepers get the most hours of sleep (average of about 8 hours). These colors are often associated with calmness and relaxation and can help put your children’s mind at ease as they are trying to rest. Therefore, we suggest using soothing colors for wall paints, such as cream, baby blue, pastel pink, and soft green, and avoiding energizing colors that stimulate children, like red and orange.

 

Sleep Tip 2: Redesign your children’s bedroom layout

For tight living spaces, it’s common that the bedroom serves multiple purposes. You could try dividing the room into “zones,” such as a sleep zone, a play area, and a work area. Make sure your children only do what they are supposed to do in the different zones so they don’t associate the bed with other activities. We also recommend that you use storage boxes to store your children’s personal belongings. Declutter the bedroom so that there are no distractions for your children or wrong signals to their brains that there are uncompleted tasks.

quality bedding for children

 

Sleep Tip 3: Invest in quality and cozy sleep products for your kids!

There isn’t a better feeling than sliding into a cozy bed with the softest sheets ever after a long day! With a cooler temperature (ideally between 18°C and 20°C) and a consistent temperature regulation under the best duvet, your children will drift off easily. You should opt for bedding materials that are 100% chemical free, hypoallergenic, breathable, and feel good on the skin. Both you and your children deserve the highest quality sleep products at a price that you’ll absolutely love.

 

Sleep Tip 4: Use the right lights in your kid’s bedroom

 

Your children may be studying and sleeping in the same room due to limited living spaces, so it’s important to have lights bright enough for work and soft enough for relaxation. We would suggest the use of dimmable lights, where in the evening your children could switch to amber lights (soft, warm lights) to reduce disruptive effects of white and blue light. You could also place a night light near your children’s bed, so when they need to get up in the middle of the night, they can still see and will not be awakened by the room’s bright light. 

children bedding hygiene

 

Sleep Tip 5: Keep your kid’s bedding hygienic 

Many experts recommend weekly washing. To keep sheets clean between washings, you should encourage your children to shower before bed or wash their feet before climbing into bed at night, and discourage taking naps sweaty. Besides using sheets to keep the pillows and mattress hygienic, you could also use everything-proof protectors to protect your children’s sleep haven from literally everything- dust mites, germs, spills, and more!

6. How to Choose a Mattress for Children

how to choose a mattress for children

The need of firmness level varies among children of different ages when it comes to selecting a mattress. But worry not, we’ve got this covered:

Infants should sleep on a firm surface. A firm crib mattress covered by sheets is necessary to support babies’ skeletons and is the safest bedding. Anything soft in the bed (which includes pillows, beanbags, and soft toys) and a soft mattress would increase the risk of suffocation anytime the baby faces down in these soft surfaces.

Toddlers transitioning from their crib mattresses often enjoy a firmer mattress, which is also better for them as they would need more back support at this age. However, they do not need the firmness as they did as infants. As your children grow older, you may opt for a slightly softer surface for them or select a mattress firmness based on their preferences, but the firmness level should typically range between medium firm to firm. This is why we would recommend the two-sided Loft Mattress which offers the comfort and support that is essential for your children with the firmness of their choice. When your toddler is younger, he or she may sleep on the firm side of the mattress; as they grow up, he or she may choose the medium-firm side!

mattress for older children

Your older children and teens who are transitioning into adulthood might want a mattress that features more properties. But you should make sure their mattress is of the medium firmness level for back and muscle health. You should also avoid all-foam mattresses due to their inability to provide adequate support and their known durability and breathability issues. Hence, we strongly recommend the thoughtfully designed hybrid Hush Mattress which uses independent pocket coils to offer support that will adapt to your children’s body as they grow up and give them the extra back and lumbar support where they need it most.

For more tips on how to choose the perfect mattress, please check out our mattress buying guide! And if you’re considering a bed frame before picking up a new mattress, we’ve got you covered too: please check out our recommendations in our bed frame buying guide.

Healthy sleep habits make happy children and happy children are those who grow strong and tall. Armed with these tips, we hope that putting your children to sleep is now an easier task, and that your children are sleeping better tonight and learning better tomorrow. For more general sleep facts and tips for children, please check out our Sleep Insights Series with Dr. Charlotte! 

Happy sleeping to you and your children!