Parenting Tips and Strategies
All too often I see children coming to school who yawn, put their head on their desks, lay down on the floor, etc. As a parent, I know that schedules and routines are important to our children. I also know that at times, we must deviate from our regular routines for special events. The problem is when we must change our routine too often. Are we still allowing our children to get enough sleep for them to be their best? Maybe we do not enforce bedtimes. Sometimes we over-schedule ourselves and our children. Other times, sleep disorders cause our children to not get enough sleep.
Studies have shown that children 3-6 years old should get 10-12 hours of sleep each night. Children 7-12 should get 10-11 hours of sleep each night. Children 12-18 years old should get 8-9 hours of sleep each night. What is scary is that 90% of teenagers report getting less than the recommended amount of sleep each night. It makes me wonder if the same is true of many other younger children as well.
As a teacher, I have seen that lack of enough sleep leads to cranky children and lack of concentration. But did you know that lack of sleep also can also cause your kids to gain weight, get sick, or not grow? Many parents notice that when their children are sleeping more than usual, it usually coincides with a growth spurt. The opposite could also be true: maybe there really is more to lack of enough sleep than we thought. “The loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to (the loss of) two years of cognitive maturation and development” (Dr. Avi Sadeh). We must remember that children’s brains continue to mature until they are 21. Much of this growth is done while a child is asleep. The loss of that hour seems to have an exponential effect on children that it does not have on adults.
What can we do to help our children get more sleep? We can take TVs out of bedrooms. If we notice our child acting cranky, we can set an earlier bedtime and enforce it. We can make sure electronics are not in the bedroom at night. We can even sometimes rearrange our schedule to have some “down-time” (or calming time) before bed. We can make a regular bedtime routine: bath, book, bed. All of these things can help our kids get a better night’s sleep. Sleep tight!
(image taken from NY Times web article)