I recently connected with the team over at Tuck Sleep who offered to contribute to Down Side Up Mommy! Tuck sleep is a community dedicated to the advancement of better sleep through promoting sleep awareness. Read below to learn about how to make sure you've created the perfect sleep environment for your child and check out Tuck.com to learn more about sleep!
5 Tips for Designing a Sleep-Friendly Kid's Room
Getting a good night's rest is crucial for everyone, but this is especially true for your children. Newborns and infants need as much as 15 to 17 hours of sleep per day, and kids require nine to 12 hours per night through elementary school and early junior high. Creating a soothing, peaceful bedroom can help ensure that your child feels healthy and well-rested every time they wake up. Here are a few tips for creating a sleep-friendly bedroom space.
- Opt for a Sleep-Inducing Palette: According to basic color theory, each color is classified as either 'warm' or 'cool'. Both can be beneficial for sleeping in both kids and adults. Warm shades ― such as red, yellow, orange and light green ― are associated with energy and enthusiasm; by stimulating the nervous system, they actually make you feel more relaxed. Alternatively, cool colors like blue, green and teal can have an intrinsically calming effect that is ideal for promoting sleep. Of all the colors, blue seems to be the most effective sleep aid; a recent Travelodge survey of more than 2,000 hotel guests found that people slept longer in blue rooms than rooms of any other color. Certain shades of yellow, green, silver and orange also garnered support, while the least popular bedroom colors for sleep were purple, brown and grey.
- Find the Right Mattress: Although they have proven quite popular with adults, mattresses made of ultra-soft materials like latex and memory foam are not recommended for growing boys and girls. The reason: latex and foam are designed to contour to a sleeper's body, creating a semi-permanent impression that provides cradle-like support over time. This can be quite comfy for grown-ups ― especially those with back or shoulder pain ― but growing kids develop too quickly, and sleeping in an undersized impression can lead to discomfort and pressure buildup. An innerspring mattress, which does not conform to one's body whatsoever, is considered the best option for kids. Innersprings also provide higher levels of spinal support during sleeps that last 10 hours or more. And because your child is constantly growing and developing, proper mattress sizing is also crucial.
- Impose a 'No Gadgets' Rule: Many kids today rely on tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles and other electronic forms of entertainment. However, these devices emit 'blue light' that are known to elevate moods and increase alertness. This is fine during the day, but nighttime blue light exposure can suppress production of melatonin, the hormone that causes us to feel sleepy; low melatonin levels have been linked to trouble falling and staying asleep. A good rule-of-thumb is to prohibit all light-emitting devices from your kid's bedroom, especially tablets, smartphones or anything they might physically use in bed. Additionally, make sure the living room TV is switched off at least 60 minutes before your child goes to bed. And if you experience trouble sleeping, then you might want to consider chucking your bedroom TV as well.
- Install adjustable lights: Like electronic devices, overhead lights emit blue light. Additionally, LEDs and fluorescent bulbs emit 'artificial light', which also suppresses melatonin production ― up to 85 percent, according to one recent study. Overexposure to artificial light at night will eventually interfere with your circadian rhythm, the biological 24-clock that dictates when you feel tired and when you feel alert. Because circadian rhythm is so closely linked with natural light, our sleep-wake cycle is highly sensitive to artificial light. Adjustable overhead lights can allow for a dimmer, more calming environment in your child's bedroom. Make sure their bedside reading lamps are adjustable, as well.
- Keep the Room ― and Bed ― Exceptionally Clean: Tidy bedrooms are, not surprisingly, linked to better sleep. Assigned cleanups can also reinforce important habits in your kids. Start with the bed itself. Help your child incorporate bed-making into their morning routine, and make sure all sheets, pillowcases and other bedding materials get washed once per week. Also take time to regularly check the underside of the mattress for dust mites, mildew and other contaminants ― though this will most likely be an issue for older mattresses. Dusting, vacuuming and other cleaning projects can also create a balanced bedroom atmosphere that will help your child feel calm and relaxed when it's time to turn in for the night.
Ben Murray is a writer and researcher for sleep science hub Tuck.com. He can usually be found running, hiking, biking or kayaking around the Pacific Northwest ― though he enjoys a good nap as much as the next person.