Dr. Allen Richert is a physician and sleep specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He offered sleep tips for helping kids get better sleep habits, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, to our executive director, Joy Hogge, in this interview.
His key tips:
- Set a schedule for your kid’s sleep—especially when they get up. Dr. Richert says that kids five years and older generally don’t need more than eight hours sleep, so if you let them sleep in, even occasionally, it can affect their ability to sleep at night. A solid bedtime, followed by a wake-up time eight hours later, is ideal.
- Naps for kids may not be necessary. If they don’t sleep eight hours at night or if they’re particularly tired or cranky, a nap might help, but their time in bed each day should still only add up to about 8 hours. Just bear in mind that nap-time sleep may affect night-time sleep.
- Drugs aren’t encouraged. Dr. Richert doesn’t think you should give kids drugs to help them sleep, at least under normal circumstances. He does mention warm milk as a “hypnotic” that can help bring sleep on.
- Remember that nothing makes you sleep. Instead, you need to create the right circumstances for sleep to “come on.” That includes a dark, comfortable room and the limiting of TV, video games, iPads and other distractions in the time leading up to bedtime. He notes that reading a story to your child (especially in a calm, monotone voice) can help the child—and the adult—get a little more sleepy.
Here’s the video interview: