For many of us, a typical school night resembles a circus with the clowns’ hair on fire. There is way too much to do and not enough time to do it all. Because of this it may be tempting to try to make more time by pushing our kids’ bedtime back. After all, there has to be give somewhere and, while we might not like seeing our kid tired the next day, we know he or she can always catch up later. Right?
Well, unfortunately, research suggests that even one hour of lost sleep can have a dramatic and negative impact on a child’s or a teen’s functioning the very next day. Before summarizing some of this research, let me share the nightly doses of sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation:
1-3 years old: 12-14 hours
3-5 years old: 11-13 hours
5-12 years old: 10-11 hours
Teens: 8.5-9.25 hours
One of the best parenting books I’ve ever read is Nurture Shock (read my blog entry on my top three favorite books for parents by clicking here). According to the authors, the following number among the consequences when our children do not get enough sleep:
• For every hour of lost sleep, a child loses seven IQ points the next day.
• When kids get less sleep, their bodies respond in a manner that maximizes the production of fat and minimizes its breakdown.
• Sleepy kids are more lethargic and less active the next day.
• A complete night’s sleep is needed in order to properly remember newly learned academic material.
• Children who are tired have a more difficult time thinking flexibly the next day.
To review related findings from the National Sleep Foundation click here.
I realize that messages like this are difficult to hear as it is so challenging to fit it all in. Moreover, our children often resist our efforts to get them to bed on time, adult leaders of extracurricular activities often seem unaware of these issues when they schedule late night events and kids sometimes find it difficult to fall and stay asleep. (To review strategies for promoting a good night’s sleep in your child click here.) But, for now, I believe we all do well to realize the importance of our kids getting a good night’s sleep.