When I was pregnant with my first child, I was talking to my husband about what bedtime our baby was going to have. I said, “I think babies go to bed when their parents go to bed – about 10pm.” My husband looked at me like I was crazy. He said, “I remember my mother putting my youngest brother to bed at 7pm. Babies need a lot of extra sleep.” To solve our argument I dug through my collection of parenting books and spent a few hours online searching for the right answer. I’m embarrassed to admit…my husband was right.
Research has proven that babies, children and teenagers who do not receive adequate sleep each night are at high risk for obesity, misbehavior, ADHD and lower IQs.
University of Minnesota’s Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom surveyed over 7,000 high schoolers in Minnesota about their sleep habits and grades. Teens who averaged A’s averaged about 15 more minutes of sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged fifteen more minutes than the C’s, and so on. Dr. Wahlstrom found that every fifteen minutes counts.
Dr. Suratt at the University of Virginia says, “Sleep disorders can impair children’s IQ as much as lead exposure.” And Po Bronson, author of the best-selling parenting book Nurture Shock says, “The surprise is not merely that sleep matters – but how much it matters. Sleep problems during formative years can cause permanent changes in a child’s brain structure.”
Pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu said in an article on CNN regarding sleep deprivation in children, “Repeated studies suggest that children benefit from more sleep, not less, so parents should remember to consider sufficient sleep as part of their child’s overall health and well-being.”
According to www.SleepFoundation.org, research suggests that most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Children and adolescents need even more sleep than adults. The following is a breakdown of the recommended number of hours of sleep people need by age (*including naps):
Infants: 0-2 months: 15-18 hours* 2-12 months: 14-15 hours*
Toddlers/Children: 12-18 months: 13-15 hours* 18 months – 3 years: 12-14 hours* 3-5 years: 11-13 hours 5-12 years: 9-11 hours
Teenagers: 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours Adults: 7-9 hours
3 Keys to Ensuring Your Children Are Not Sleep-Deprived
1. Stick to a schedule
2. Build an optimal sleep environment [low noise & light]
3. Limit TV (videos) before bed (could over-stimulate the child
If it were up to my daughter, she would stay up until midnight every night watching Hanna Montana. But I am the parent, and parents need to set the rules – not the kids. So parents, if you love your children and want the best for them physically, emotionally, mentally and academically you will take charge of bedtime and naptime and understand that adequate sleep is one of the most important gifts you will ever give your children.