One of the many struggles of parenthood includes being the enforcer of bedtime. It can be especially hard during the transition from summer break, back to school. The truth is, kids need sleep to be successful during the day. Below is the ammunition you need to reason your way through this battle to a peaceful resolution.
One tactic that can be successful with children is taking time to explain the reasons why the body needs to sleep. Here are four important things that happen while children sleep.
- Repair muscles and rejuvenate the body for the next day- if sleep is cut short the body will not feel rested and strong.
- Memory consolidation- time to organize and process the information collected throughout the day.
- Growth- the body releases hormones during sleep that regulate growth.
- Digestion- the body burns off toxins and completes digestion from the day while it sleeps. If the body does not have time to do this toxins may start to build up and gastrointestinal problem may begin to surface.
Below is a chart developed by Wilson Elementary in Kenosha, Wisconsin to help determine if their students were getting the proper amount of rest. Age is listed on the column on the left, wake up time across the top and bed time beneath wake up time. You may be surprised to learn that a 5yr old still require 11.5hrs of sleep per night and a 12yr old is not yet an adult who can sneak by with 7hrs, they still need 9.45hrs. Keep in mind every child is different. If your child is showing signs of being tired (irritable, cranky, irrational) you may want to increase their sleep beyond the recommendation of the chart.
The bottom line is that kids need a night of uninterrupted sleep to leave their bodies and minds rejuvenated for the next day, and it is our responsibility as parents to make sure that it happens. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite. Then we wake up less prepared to concentrate, make decisions, or engage fully in school and social activities.
If reasoning does not work with your child here are a few more tips:
- Teach children about healthy sleep habits.
- Create a regular and consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine.
- Make child’s bedroom conducive to sleep – dark, cool and quiet and stress free.
- Keep TV and computers out of the bedroom, stop screen time 2 hours prior to sleep.
- Avoid caffeine and other sugary drinks and snacks.
Okay, maybe in won’t be that simple, but the benefit of putting them to bed on time out ways the initial fight or tantrum that may take place. Kids may be mad and mean in the evening when this routine is being established, but eventually they will wake up happy, rested and ready to succeed.
For more information and tips visit: National Sleep Foundation. www.sleepfoundation.org