SLEEP! Who can get enough of it? More and more studies point to the need for a good night’s sleep. But, as a new parent, you are sleep deprived, and then when your children get older they may sleep through the night, but they want to wake up at the crack of dawn. Once your children are adolescents their days and nights are totally up side down, they often want to stay up too late and sleep half the day away.
Sleep is an important way to rest our brains and reset our bodies for another day. Circadian rhythm helps to regulate sleep/wake cycles. But trying to make sure that your children get enough sleep seems to be a never ending battle (at least in many houses). It is also one of the most frequent concerns of many of my patient’s parents.
A recent study which was undertaken by the National Sleep Foundation reviewed over 300 articles published in peer reviewed journals between 2004-2014. Based upon their review here are the updated sleep recommendations:
Newborns (0- 3 months) 14 - 17 hours
Infants (4 -11 months) 12 - 15 hour
Toddlers (1- 2- years) 11 - 14 hours
Preschoolers (3 - 5) 10 - 13 hours
School aged children ( 6 - 13) 9 - 11 hours
Teens (14- 17) 8 - 10 hours
Young adults (18 - 25) 7 - 9 hours
So, how do your children stack up with their sleep? Parents with newborns complain that their children may sleep 15 hours/ day, but not in the increments that they would like, while parents with children over the age of 13 rarely report that their children are getting 8 - 10 hours of sleep.
One mother recently was exasperated as her daughter age 7 would go to bed at 7:30 pm but woke up everyday at 6 am. I explained to her that her daughter was getting enough sleep, and that unfortunately her biological clock was set and that short of making her stay in her room until 6:45 when she wanted her to get up, there was not much to do. The problem is that many parents cannot go to bed when their children do, (dishes, laundry, work emails, etc to get done while the children sleep.) So while their children may be getting enough sleep the parents are often sleep deprived!
While a good night’s sleep is important for mood and focus there is a lot of data suggesting that children who get enough sleep are less obese, are less likely to get into trouble and are certainly more pleasant to be around.
So, have a good nighttime routine beginning with a regular bedtime for your children. Commit to no electronics in their bedrooms and turn off any electronics at least an hour before bed. We parents need to do the same!