It is a well known fact that humans need to sleep. It should not be a surprise to you that in our fast-paced, go-get-em world, we do not get enough of it. According to the Center of Disease Control, close to 40% of adults aged over 16 years old reported that they get less than the minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night. The same statistic is true for children, who require a much longer amount of sleep–around 12-14 hours for preschoolers and 11-12 hours for children in elementary school. So, just what exactly are the risks of sleep deprivation?
Recently, there was an article in the New York Times which pointed to lack of sleep as a possible culprit for the overabundance of ADHD in children. In adults, lack of sleep leads to excessive yawning, sleepiness, and sometimes falling asleep on the job. In children, however, the effect is quite the opposite. Children who receive less than the recommended 12 hours of shut-eye each night tend to be hyperactive, and sometimes even aggressive. In the classroom, these kids are the ones who cannot sit still for the entirety of the lesson. At times, they are disruptive to the rest of the class. Their less than optimal sleep schedule puts them at risk for being (wrongly) diagnosed with a learning disability.
With school just around the corner, it is a great time to get your children on a solid sleep schedule so that they can have the most success this coming school year.
Maintain a Daily Sleep Schedule
Life is hectic, and with young children, there is always something going on! Try to make bedtime a consistent routine for your family. Bedtime is a great way to bond with your child by discovering a new favorite book. To begin with, get children into their routine 30-45 minutes before their actual bed time so that they have time to relax (and ask for a 2nd book!)
There is a time and a place for technology. The bedroom is not one of them. Limit video games to 2 hours before bedtime, and if possible, eliminate the television, computers, cell phones and other electronics for your child’s bedroom. By eliminating the light transmitted from these devices, children will have an easier time falling asleep.
If properly fueled by sleep, children do not need external energy!
Make it Cozy
The bedroom should be a place your child wants to go to to relax after a long and tiring day. Make sure the bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool by covering windows with opaque curtains and by running fans and heaters to maintain an optimal temperature.
By setting the foundation early, you will put your child on a path to success both at school and at home.
For more information on Childhood Sleep Disorders, visit Kids Sleep Disorders Awareness.