I have been talking with the students in elementary physical education classes about the importance of the “BIG FOUR”:Hydration  (water), Sleep (10 to 11 hours for ages 5 to 10), Food (healthy food in your body), and Exercise (60 minutes per day). Teachers at Crestview are trying to set the expectation of having the students more involved in their own learning. Each child selects a goal and develops a plan with their teacher to help reach the goal.

To help guide children in the inaugural year of this process, I asked each child in 1st through 3rd grade to pick which one of the “BIG FOUR” they believe they need to work on the most. I was shocked to discover that over 41% of the children selected sleep as the one they needed to work on the most! A whopping 69% of children K-3 said they know they do not get enough sleep.

As I spoke with each child to help develop a plan to improve their sleep, I would ask them what they thought the cause was for their lack of sleep. Examples of shared problems include the following: can’t fall asleep/lay awake for a long time, fall asleep but can’t stay asleep, worried about something, sibling in room is keeping them awake, waiting for family member to come home, too cold/hot, playing video games/tablet, watching/hear TV, bad dreams when asleep, concerned about next day/family member, mom/dad/sibling snores, staying up late, hear noises/scared. Plans/Solutions the kids came up with: wish they had a bedtime, if they had a bedtime, wished it was earlier, turn TV/video games off earlier, want to go to bed earlier, wished they didn’t have to be out late, talk to parents about worries, exercise more to get tired, not drink pop, put a pillow over ears.

The conversations prompted me to have an additional discussion with the students about the things that they may do to help them sleep. In addition to the above mentioned tips, we came up with other ideas that might need more parent involvement. They included the following: use of aromatherapy such as lavender, chamomile, sandalwood, and vanilla, white noise machine that plays sounds such as rain or insects in the summer, breathing exercises, bedtime stories, different bedding or pillows, moving head of the bed to the North, eating bananas, almonds, oats and eggs, avoiding cheese, spicy food, and caffeine, lowering the room temperature, wearing socks to bed, listening to music, earplugs to drown out noise/eye mask for lights. It is my hope that we can work together to make sure that the children are getting a good night’s sleep each night. If you have any additional questions or insight please do not hesitate to call me as I welcome your thoughts.

Sources: National Sleep Foundation, Department of Health and Human Services, Kids Health.