Let's Sleep On It
A parent here at school and I were chatting the other day about the amount of sleep his young daughter gets every night. Evidently he and his wife noticed how tired she is now that school is back in session, and decided to increase the amount of sleep she gets, with a goal of ten to eleven hours a night.
That sounds like a lot! But depending on the child, s/he may need at least that much. The American Academy of Pediatric Medicine has endorsed the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s guidelines for childhood sleep. They are as follows:
There is a great deal of research underpinning these recommendations, including almost 900 published scientific articles. This research links sleeping the recommended number of hours to increases in children’s ability to pay attention, positive behavior at school and home, and better mental and physical health. Regularly sleeping fewer than the recommended number of hours is associated with decreases in attention, increased difficulty in learning and negative behavior at school and home. Interestingly, sleeping more than the maximum recommended hours can also lead to issues such as poor health (especially diabetes, obesity, and mental health issues) and likewise should be avoided.
So although it can seem difficult to find the time for children to sleep--particularly given their involvement in after school activities, some of which take place before dawn (ice time!) or late in the evening--it is important for parents to keep in mind the central role that sleep plays in children’s emotional and physical health, and their ability to learn to the best of their ability.
Make sleep a priority, and it will pay off.