To help eliminate bedtime frustrations, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends parents take the following steps to positively influence their child's sleep habits:
* Keep a bedtime routine. A consistent routine (10 to 15 minutes long) - brushing teeth, changing into pajamas and reading a book - helps children go from alert and active to a quieter state, giving them the ability to fall asleep on their own.
* Focus on timing. Kids who go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every morning sleep better and have fewer night wakings. Studies also show that kids who go to bed around the same time each day have fewer behavior problems and perform better in school.
'Research has shown consistent bedtimes and bedtime routines encourage cognitive development,' says Dr. M. Safwan Badr, president of the AASM. 'Educating children on necessary sleep health and establishing effective bedtime routines will help foster healthier lifestyles as they grow into adolescents and adults - reducing the epidemic of insufficient sleep in America.'
* Teach and demonstrate the value of sleep. Getting enough sleep is critical to the health and well-being of every child, and sharing the importance of quality sleep will help them understand why. Two interactive apps developed by the AASM give parents new resources to teach their children about the value of sleep using tablet devices.
The apps - I See the Animals Sleeping and The Animals Sleep - use interactive storytelling and activities to show animals' sleep patterns, environment and adaptations. They illustrate how sleep is important for all animals, and people too. Based on two educational children's picture books, the apps will help kids understand the need for a soothing sleep environment and the importance of developing healthy sleep habits that will last their lifetime.
'It's important that children develop an understanding of why they have to go to sleep because it will help them grow and play and feel better during the day - and not just because their parents say so,' says Dr. Shalini Paruthi, spokesperson for the AASM. 'The best method to teach children about a new topic is to start with something that interests them; in this case, that topic is animals.'
The AASM recommends tablet use with children during the daytime for educational interaction. The illustrated books that inspired the apps are both available in hardcover for use as part of a child's bedtime routine. The kids' sleep apps are available for download on the iPad, Kindle Fire or Android tablets.
Parents should pay special attention to any persistent problems such as loud snoring, which is a warning sign for obstructive sleep apnea. If parents have concerns about how their child is sleeping, they should discuss them with their child's doctor.
I See the Animals Sleeping and The Animals Sleep are available for free download from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon. For more information on children's sleep health or the AASM, visit SleepEducation.com.