Sleep Hygiene for Kids: Helping Everyone Sleep Through the Night

September 1, 2022 | 4 min read


This article about improving sleep hygiene for kids was originally published in September 2019. All relevant statistics and content have been updated as of August 2022. 

According to the CDC, school-age children in America need to get between 8-12 hours of sleep in a single night. Unfortunately,  they also found that 60% of middle schoolers don’t get enough sleep, and 70% of high schoolers don’t meet their requirement either. This is a matter that merits greater attention since sleep deprivation has big effects on a child’s academic and social life

Children who do not get enough sleep quantity and/or quality tend to be drowsy or overtired in the daytime and can struggle to cope with both school and sports/social demands. If you have a child who has fallen out of his or her sleeping routine, these are just a few ways you can get them back on the road to better health and well-being.

As we are now in back to school season, a popular topic in any household with school-age kids tends to be getting back into a normal sleep schedule. For children, sleep hygiene can be notoriously difficult to conceptualize and manage. Children often have to fight off heavy emotions like excitement, boredom, and even sometimes fear as they are drifting off to sleep.

60% of middle schoolers don’t get enough sleep. Surprising? To some, but for parents who are familiar with the inherent challenges of helping their children establish good #SleepHygiene, it’s a struggle they know all too well. See @NEChildrensHome’s tips:Click To Tweet

Most kids famously want to stay up way past their designated bedtime, mostly so they don’t have to miss out on whatever is going on around them and partly because they don’t realize how important their sleep hygiene truly is.

What Is Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep hygiene is a buzz term for the habits you incorporate into your sleep routine. This can be anything from putting your electronics away 1 hour before bed to the temperature a room stays at while you’re sleeping. Basically, anything and everything that shapes your sleeping habits and patterns can fall under the category of sleep hygiene. 

Like any kind of “hygiene,” it’s common sense to want to develop the most productive habits possible. Unfortunately, children and their parents often don’t know what healthy sleep hygiene for children often looks like. Keep reading to understand some elements that could contribute to healthier sleep hygiene for children.

Limit Your Child’s Caffeine Intake

In addition to following a strict bedtime routine (i.e., encouraging kids to sleep at the same time every night), you should also watch the foods they consume. Experts estimate that 75% of children consume caffeine every day.

#DYK about 75% of children consume caffeine every day? This and other factors like electronics usage and stress can all be contributing factors to unhealthy #SleepHygiene. Take a look at some helpful tips via @NEChildrensHome:Click To Tweet

This ingredient can cause everything from increased anxiety to nervousness and, of course, sleep issues. While scientists say that caffeine in moderation “is not the worst thing for kids,” they add that too many caffeinated drinks (often found in soda) can cause major behavioral issues and sleep deprivation.

Caffeine can have different effects from person to person and even from child to child. It’s most important to know your child, their caffeine limits, and what can help them avoid this extra hurdle when it comes to maintaining healthy sleep hygiene.

Concentrate As Much On Sleep Quality As On Sleep Quantity

Ensuring your children stay in bed for around 10 hours won’t be sufficient if their sleep quality is poor. Children who frequently wake up, toss and turn for hours before getting any shut-eye, and get up to use the bathroom frequently, are not making their way through all the relevant sleep stages. 

This includes the stage of deep sleep – the most restorative of all and one that is vital for the growth and repair of tissue and bones, energy restoration, and strengthening of the immune system. 

Also key is the REM stage of sleep, during which dreamers are aware they are sleeping, as is the case in lucid dreaming, or become completely ‘lost in the dream.’ Scientists believe that dreams are a form of memory processing that aids in the process of learning. To make their way through all relevant stages of sleep, kids should not wake up more than once during the night. 

If they are doing so, it is important to find out why. Is it because they have consumed stimulating foods or drinks? Are they using technology at night time? Do they have a problem they are worried about?

Teach Children The Art Of Relaxation

Children should be encouraged to learn simple yet highly effective stress-busting methods such as meditation, controlled breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation. There are so many apps available for this purpose, including Calm, Dreamy Kid, and Breathe, which contain easy-to-follow breathing and meditation exercises. 

If you wish to keep tech completely out of the bedroom, guide your child through progressive muscle relaxation. Ask them to tense up their muscles (starting at the toes and working their way up to the face), then relax them. This process helps children understand where the tension lies in their bodies and teaches them how to get rid of it.

In order to function well at school and in their private and social lives, children need good sleep. Parents should let children know how important sleep is, explaining the difference between quantity and quality. The family can then work together on a game plan – one that tackles issues proactively and gives the entire household the rest they need.

Looking for more resources or advice when it comes to your family? NCHS has all the tips, strategies, connections, and tools you need to support you and your family on your journey. To find out more, connect with our team today.