Any parent will know that bedtime is one of the most important parts of a child's development. In order for little ones to grow properly both physically mentally, it is essential that they are getting the right amount of rest each evening.
On the face of it, some may be forgiven for thinking the more shut-eye they get the better, but looking at it in this way is really a bit over-simplistic. If a child is spending an excessive number of hours in bed each night, this could actually be doing more harm than good.
In addition, although experts have been conducting research into the field for decades, there is still no ultimate theory on how much sleep the average person should get.
This has just been demonstrated by the fact that the University of Loyola in Chicago has unveiled some interesting new findings, which suggest the eight-hour estimate most people seem to take as a given might actually be a bit off the mark.
The research provides a detailed breakdown of the hourly range that people of different ages should aim for in order to be at the peak of their health.
HOW MUCH SLEEP SHOULD CHILDREN REALLY BE GETTING?
As you might imagine, children often have a very different idea of how much sleep they should be getting to their parents. One of the biggest causes of unrest for little ones is having to go to bed before adults, possibly because this gives them a sense that they are being left out of something - and feeling excluded is unsurprisingly one of the main sources of upset for kids.
However, it is a simple fact that children should be getting at least a few more hours in each night than their parents, meaning you might have to come up with a few tactics to persuade your loved ones to head upstairs on time.
The sliding scale - according to Loyola - starts with newborns, who are recommended to spend 14-17 hours a day in bed. This then goes down on a gradual gradient, with toddlers and children, who should be getting between 11 and 13 hours and teenagers (14-17 years old), who are advised to spend eight to ten hours sleep each night.
With that in mind, here are a few ways that you can make sure your children get the right amount of sleep.
START THE PROCESS EARLY
Just because it's mealtime doesn't mean that it is too early to start thinking about putting your child to bed. The size and nutritional value of their evening food intake could well have a profound effect on how well they sleep a couple of hours later.
Always make sure the kids have their tea at least two hours before they will be heading up to bed, as otherwise indigestion and excess energy stored up from carbohydrate-rich meals could leave them unable to nod off. Desserts are also a great treat for children on an occasional basis, but too much sugar and saturated fat before bed is a recipe for disaster.
It can be tempting to match kids' mealtimes with your own, to get them used to the etiquette and social side of eating with a group, but this can be more negative than positive in the case of really young ones.
There are few better ways to get children settled down and ready for sleep than the age-old method of the bedtime story.
It is naive to think that little ones will be tired enough to drop off straight after they have headed upstairs, but the bedtime story acts as a kind of halfway house, easing them into the idea of slumberland calmly and comfortably.
Fun toys like night lights and hanging mobiles are two of the classic ways that kids can be given help with sleep. However, in the modern day there are hundreds of similar products that could well prove the difference between being sleep-rich or sleep-deprived.
Take Pillow Pets from TP Toys for example, which are a fantastic combination between soft toys and comfy pillows, making an association between sleep and something that the child holds dear to them. Check out TP's fantastic range to learn more.