Op-Ed: Tips for a good night's sleep

The right amount and quality of sleep helps a child to be alert and attentive during the day, and in a calm and positive mood. According to the National Sleep Foundation toddlers ages 1-2 years need 11-14 hours of sleep, preschoolers ages 3-5 need 10-13 hours, and school-aged children need an average of 9-11 hours of sleep per night.

The following are some practical tips for good sleep hygiene:

1. Turn off all screens after dinner. The light behind screens can trick the brain into thinking it's daytime, making it more difficult to go to sleep.

2. Limit or foods that have caffeine from the late afternoon, such as chocolate, ice creams, and soft drinks.

3. Decrease physical activity close to bedtime. This will help your child to start to relax.

4. Make sure the bedroom is dark, cool and comfortable.

5. Set up a regular bedtime every night, even on the weekends. This helps set your child's internal clock and rhythms.

6. A consistent and simple wind-down routine helps your child get ready for sleep. It should be in the same order every night so that your child can expect each activity, ie. a warm bath or shower, pajamas, and a read aloud of a preferred book or books. In general, children respond well to structure and routines.

A good night's sleep helps your child get up easily the next morning and to be ready for the day. And a consistent routine can lead to a smooth transition back to school.

Monica Rothstein is a psychologist at Westport Parenting, which provides counseling support for children and parents, help at school, and parent groups.