The Sleep Guide:
The Ideal Sleep Environment for Babies and Kids
The space where your baby and young children sleep, can have a great impact on their sleep quality.
While it used to be advice that babies should sleep in noise, bright rooms to make them be flexible to sleep anywhere and know that it was day time, science sleep data tells us different. Creating a sleep friendly environment is one of the first steps to create healthy sleep habits and support better sleep.
A sleep environment that is very dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable can improve your children’s sleep (and yours).
Sleep Friendly Environment
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- The recommended temperature range for infants and children is 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit (20-22 Celsius).
- The cooler room allows for deeper, less fragmented sleep
- One way that our bodies prepare for sleep is by cooling down. A drop in body temperature slows metabolism, reduces alertness, and enables sleep to come more easily.
- Body temperature changes throughout the day, hitting its highest point an hour or two before a child’s normal bedtime, dropping quickly once the child is asleep, and staying low until an hour or two before a child wakes for the morning
- Room temperatures that are too warm are associated with an increased risk of SIDS in infants.
- Keep a quiet bedroom to allow restful sleep.
- Many sleep professionals will recommend using white noise to block sounds from waking a child unnecessarily.
- The current recommendation is for noise machines not to exceed 50dB, or about the noise level of a bathroom shower.
- White noise machines should not be place next to your child's year, or in the crib.
Artificial light at night has a negative effect on sleep.
- Light increases alertness and delays when the body begins to produce the hormone melatonin that signals when to sleep.
- Keep your children's bedroom dark at night.
- If they need a night light on to feel safe, make sure you choose lights in the red/orange spectrum that are less disrupting to melatonin production.
Anything interesting in your child’s sleep environment can cause them to fight sleep.
- Keep electronics outside the bedroom where they sleep.
- Not only electronics represent a distraction for sleep but also the blue lights from screens tell the body is daytime instead of night time.
- Electronic devices in the bedroom are associated with less sleep at night and poorer quality sleep.
Check out our Safe Sleep Guide to follow the AAP recommendation on safe sleep for babies from 0 - 12 months.
- For older children, it is also important to make sure the sleep environment is child safe proof with electrical outlet covered and furniture attached to the walls.
- If your toddler is already in a toddler's bed or climbing out of the crib, make sure they don't have access to other rooms in the house that might be dangerous for them to explore during the night if they wake up.
Franco, P., Scaillet, S., Valente, F., Chabanski, S., Groswasser, J., Kahn, A. (2001). Ambient temperature is associated with changes in infants’ arousability from sleep. Sleep (3), 325–329. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/24.3.325
- American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). AAP POLICY STATEMENT: SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommedations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment TASK FORCE ON SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME. In Pediatrics (Vol. 138). https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2938
- AAP's Infant Safe Sleep Recommendations - First Candle
- Naitoh, P., Antony-Baas, V., Muzet, A., & Ehrhart, J. (1982). Dynamic Relation of Sleep Spindles and K-Complexes to Spontaneous Phasic Arousal in Sleeping Human Subjects. Sleep, 5 (1), 58–72. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/5.1.58
- Portas, C. M., Krakow, K., Allen, P., Josephs, O., Armony, J. L., & Frith, C. D. (2000). Auditory Processing across the Sleep-Wake Cycle: Simultaneous EEG and fMRI Monitoring in Humans. Neuron, 28 (3), 991–999. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0896-6273(00)00169-0
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Follow the SAFE SLEEP recommendations of the the
American Academy of Pediatrics to reduce the risk of SIDS.