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Oregon Family Magazine

Sweet Dreams

11/10/2010 08:30 ● By Anonymous
Sleep is vital to a child's health and growth, but what can parents do to help promote quality sleep?

While a child's sleep-needs vary as they grow, there are two recommendations that remain consistent, no matter the child's age. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends maintaining a regular bedtime routine and a sleep-friendly environment.

Here are some things you can do to make your child's room sleep-friendly and help them get the rest they need.

Noise. Busy traffic, noisy appliances, or even the barking of neighborhood dogs can interrupt a child's sleep. Children don't need complete silence to sleep, but minimizing excess sound can help them fall asleep and stay asleep. The white noise of a fan or air conditioner can help block unwanted sound. Carpet, upholstery and blackout curtains can also absorb some of the ambient noise and make the room quieter.

Temperature. There isn't an ideal temperature for sleep - the point at which temperature conditions interrupt sleep will be different for everyone. But in most cases, the NSF says that temperatures above 75 degrees and below 54 degrees will disrupt sleep. A slightly cooler room contributes to good sleep because it mimics what happens when the body's internal temperature drops to its lowest level during the night. Monitor your child's room for temperature. Rooms with more sun exposure tend to be warmer and may need a fan.

Light. The human body is sensitive to light, even while sleeping. The Better Sleep Council (BSC) says that light, such as the rising sun, is a powerful cue to the body and can wake up the brain well before the alarm clock sounds. Keeping the room as dark as possible helps the body fall asleep naturally. The BSC recommends getting as much exposure to sunlight during the day as possible, and to block as much light as possible during sleeping hours to keep the body on track.

Both the BSC and the NSF recommend the use of light blocking curtains. Blackout curtains, such as those made by LightCatcher, can help turn the bedroom into the sleep sanctuary children need. Because traditional-width curtains can leak light from the top and sides, LightCatcher blackout curtains are cut wide, in over 50-inch widths, providing more light prevention. With exclusive Insuldark technology, these curtains also provide more sound dampening and more energy savings than traditional curtains, helping to keep the room not only dark enough, but cool and quiet enough for good sleep. LightCatcher curtains are available at buybuybaby.com.