Although parents usually relish the comfort of our beds and dream of a lovely early night, getting children to bed at a reasonable time can be more of a challenge. The phrase “a few more minutes” comes to mind.
Children are less likely to see the benefits and importance of a good night’s sleep, especially when there are far more fun things to do. Therefore getting your child to bed at a decent time is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The Sleep Charity conducted a study in 2009 and found that 33% of parents with children aged 6-12 didn’t know that they needed around 10 hours of sleep each night. Some children can function better on less sleep than others, but over time this deficit builds up and can negatively impact the child.
Here we outline why sleep is so vital in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and how to ensure your 11 year old gets enough good quality sleep.
Why Is Sleep So Important?
Sleep is vital for all human beings. However, the functions of sleep and how much you need change over the course of your life.
Children have more deep non-REM sleep in the first few hours from when they fall asleep and more REM and light non-REM sleep in the second half of the night.
Deep non-REM sleep is needed for cell regeneration, healthy growth and repair oft tissues and bone, to strengthen the immune system and to restore ones energy.
As children are still developing mentally and physically they require more sleep than adults. Studies show that children that get the right amount of good quality sleep see improvements in attention, memory, behaviour and general health.
Poor sleep quality has been linked to issues with cognition such as mood swings and difficulties concentrating, which can lead to lower test scores.
Children that get less than the recommended amount of sleep are also prone to developing obesity through the onset of poor eating habits.
What 11-Year-Olds Need?
Healthcare professionals generally suggest that the age of 11 you should need between 10-11 hours of sleep per night. A childs bedtime depends on how quickly the individual falls asleep and what time they need to be awake for school the next day.
If a child falls asleep quickly and usually manages to stay asleep throughout the night, their bedtime may be a little later.
For example, if a child must be awake at 7 am in order to get ready and leave for school ontime, they need to go to bed around 8 pm each evening.
Creating A Good Sleep Environment
Regardless of the time your child goes to bed if they have trouble sleeping or staying asleep then they will not get a sufficient amount to function properly the next day. Here are a few simple rules to follow in order to maintain a healthy sleep environment:
No Technology Before Bed
Technology provides us with many benefits, but helping us fall asleep isn’t one of them. Looking at screens before bed inhibits the product of melatonin due to the blue light emitted from electronic devices.
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle and therefore you find it harder to fall asleep. Try to avoid using screens an hour before bed.
Studies have found that having a warm bath before bed helps you fall asleep faster as the warm water helps to change the body's core temperature when you exit the bath.
The body naturally drops its core temperature before going to sleep, this speeds the process along and signals to the brain that it’s time to sleep. Warm baths also aid in feelings of relaxation.
Dimming The Lights
Before electricity we would have simpler means of light, therefore we would typically go to bed when the sun set and wake when the sun rose again.
Increased lighting throughout the evening means melatonin release is inhibited, delaying the biological signal that it’s time to sleep. Using small side lamps or dimmer switches around your home in the evening can help with this.
Following A Bedtime Routine
Bedtime routines are important for your child to regulate their sleep pattern which will eventually make it easier for them to fall asleep and wake up in the morning. The factors mentioned above contribute to a good bedtime routine.
Timings are another important aspect of planning a bedtime routine as it can help to regulate your childs circadian rhythm, signalling to their body and brain it’s time to go to sleep. For a child who goes to bed at 8 pm, their routine may look like this:
- 7:00 pm: no more electronics
- 7:30 pm: brush teeth and get ready for bed
- 7:45 pm: ready quietly with dim lights
- 8:00 pm: lights out and go to sleep
Puberty is another factor that can influence how much sleep your child needs. If your child goes through puberty early, their circadian rhythm shifts making them feel tired a few hours later.
Therefore, if the child usually goes to bed gets tired and goes to sleep at 8 pm, they won’t feel tired until 10 pm when they start to go through puberty.
Adjustments to routines and ways of helping your child fall asleep may need to be revisited as a result. Regardless of their age, creating a good sleep environment and bedtime routine will aid in falling asleep quicker and increasing the quality of sleep.
Sleep is a complex and important process for all human beings no matter their age. Younger children need more sleep than adults and adolescents as their bodies and brains are still developing.
Children between 5-11 years old need between 10-11 hours of sleep a night in order to regulate bodily processes, normal cognitive functioning and development and to fight off illnesses and infections. Creating an environment that facilitates good quality sleep is important.