Does your child sleep soundly at night? Adequate sleep is essential if you want your child to optimise the use of his physical and mental capabilities.
Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. All of us have heard this old saying, but few pay any real attention to it. Believe it or not, but our sleep patterns and the quality of sleep plays an important role in keeping children healthy, and their brain functioning at optimal levels.
Does your child have a disturbed sleep at night, or does he sleep soundly? Just because a child sleeps soundly through the night doesn't mean that he will do better than the child who has a disturbed sleep, but if your child has a disturbed sleep at night, research shows that if his sleep quality improves, his concentration and ability to assimilate information will improve as well. In short, his grades will go up.
Pre-teens need approximately nine hours of sleep at night, yet few children manage to get these many hours of bedtime.
Early to bed
Does your child stay up late watching television or playing computer games? If so, speak to him about his timings. Let him know that he is certainly entitled to a few hours of enjoyment, but he needs to work within a time framework. Let him work backwards from the time he needs to wake up to get to school. Does he wake up at 7 every morning? If yes, then he needs to be in bed by 9:30 or 10:00 at the very latest.
Ideally, the time before going to bed should be spent on a peaceful activity, like reading. If your child plays a violent video game just before going to bed, chances are he will be too keyed up to fall asleep, and it may be a couple of hours before he finally nods off.
Some children in general take a long time falling sleep. If your child cannot fall asleep easily, try giving her a warm glass of milk every night before she turns in. Encourage her to stick to a fixed schedule. Ideally, she should go to bed at around the same time, and wake up at around the same time, everyday.
Also, remember that a child's mind is often as alert and active as the mind of an adult. Just because your child is little, doesn't mean she doesn't have her own shares of stress, problems or dreams and aspirations. It is very possible that your child keeps going through the events of the day in her mind, constantly thinks about her friends, or just spends a lot of time day-dreaming (at night!). If you think your child is a daydreamer, often lost in her own world, and her thoughts prevent her from sleeping at night, speak to her about it. She possibly keeps her mind working at night while she tries to fall asleep, and doesn't realise that this prevents her from falling asleep. You could encourage your child to keep a private diary and write down her imaginative thoughts, and tell her to avoid thinking too much when she is in bed - no matter how great the temptation - as she may wound up so lost in her dreams that she doesn't achieve them.
If your child has trouble sleeping because of tonsils or nasal troubles, consult your doctor.