Tuesday, November 06, 2007

All I Want For Christmas Is a Good Night's Sleep

"We need to focus as much on the sleeping half of children’s lives as we do on the waking half." Jodi A. Mindell, PhD

Did you know that your 1st-5th graders should get about 10-11 hours of sleep each night?

Read it again: TEN TO ELEVEN HOURS! Your teens need 8 1/2 to 9 hours every night.

So, running around all evening and finally getting everyone tucked in somewhere around 10:00 pm (that's GETTING into bed ... not falling asleep), only to get trucking again by 7:00 am (or earlier) the next morning, is just not cutting it.

The National Sleep Foundation is always reminding parents that caffeine affects sleep ... too much TV and electronics affect sleep ... your child's weight gain can even affect their sleep.

Why should I even care? I lost sleep as a kid, especially as a teenager and OH ... did I ever sleep in college? I turned out okay, right? (shut your yappers - I can hear all the snide remarks!)

The truth is that not sleeping well on a regular basis has dire consequences. You may not see them, because you think "everyone is turning out okay." Ever stop to think that everyone should be turning out better?

Losing sleep affects how your brain functions. It messes with your ability to learn and listen and concentrate. You'll be more forgetful. For teens and up, sleep can be good for your face! Less sleep can equal more pimples and other assundry skin ugliness. It can add more aggression to your behavior. It can actually bring about the desires to eat more, thus gaining weight, which we have already said then contributes to MORE sleep issues. It can screw with your immune system, making you more prone to illness. Not to mention, there are more recent studies showing that driving while tired can be equally as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

I am so very unpopular in my house some days, but I continue to make sleep a priority. When you have children that already face sleep issues because of neurological funk, you have to do everything you can to help.

We have had a bedtime routine ... forever! It has changed over the years, but when Dad says, "Okay guys! Time to start your bedtime routines!" everyone knows exactly what he is talking about. It is the basics: bedtime snack, brushing teeth, putting on p.j.'s and usually reading quietly in bed.

My kids rarely get anything with caffeine, but I'm definitely the caffeine police in the evenings. Even on days when they are allowed television and computer time, everything is turned off mid-evening.

I think the hardest thing for me was to realize that I had to be a living example in how I valued sleep. I have to go to bed, even if everything is not done - which means that I get the vital things accomplished and deal with the fact that there are dirty dishes or unfolded laundry. I have to go to bed and get up at a decent hour on the weekends to keep my internal clock happy. I have to watch my caffeine intake, and my weight and the amount of television I pump into my little head.

I want my kids to be the best they can possibly be. I realize now that sleep has a lot to do with their success ... emotionally, physically, academically - even spiritually!

Run put on your jammies and turn the lights off early tonight!


Anonymous said...

When do your kids go to bed, then?

When we were young, I was always in bed by 8:00-ish and up at 7. I hated my parents (lol) but am thankful for them giving me the sleep I needed!

Unknown said...

We start our bedtime routine at 8:30 for a 9:00 pm bedtime. Everyone is up around 7:00 or 7:30 am. This goes for weekends, too. Occasionally you have SOMETHING that you can't avoid, and a late night, but it is never the norm.

I have friends who even have their middle school and high school children in bed by 8:00 or 8:30 pm, because of their early obligations at school (sometimes earlier, when there is a track meet, etc.).

This is one of those parenting issues where I am gladly very NOT cool. :)

Unknown said...

Sorry - I didn't mention that the kids aren't climbing into bed at 9:00 pm. About 8:45 pm is when they are reading quietly or listening to music or stories in their beds.

Welcome to Great Goblets! said...

I'm a very firm believer in the importance of enough sleep. My boys are both at the preteen and teenage years (11 & 13) and I try VERY hard to make sure they're in bed around 8 to 8:30 every week night, and by 9:30 on weekends. We of course have exceptions because of obligations at times, but for the most part we stay on task. I find my 13 yr old even seems to need it more than his brother, and actually asks to go to bed if it's past 8:30. I just don't get the people that truly believe they can function on 5 or 6 hours of sleep.
Not me - I love my rest!!