Good sleep crucial for a healthy life
Stick to a routine and avoid having TV and smartphones in the bedroom
WHEN one of my four kids is snappish, I almost immediately think about how much sleep the child had the night before.
If less than usual, then I generally know the why behind the crankiness – and brace myself for the onslaught of whininess.
“Sleep supports healthy growth and development,” says Terry Cralle, a nurse and certified clinical sleep educator.
“Children who sleep less than the recommended number of hours suffer an increase in behaviour, learning and attention disorders.”
But in today’s fast-paced world, sleep is often overlooked or sacrificed. “Studies show that many children are getting less sleep than they did 20 years ago,” says Cralle.
Parents also underestimate the amount of sleep a tween or teen needs. Last year, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, backed by the American Academy of Paediatrics, changed its recommendations for how much sleep children should get: children six to 12 years, nine to 12 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period and teens 13 to 18, eight to 10 hours.
“Sleep deprivation has negative consequences for children’s health at every age,” says Dr Anayansi Lasso-Pirot, paediatric pulmonologist and interim head of the division of paediatric pulmonology, allergy and sleep medicine at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. “Sleep is a restorative part of the day. Just as you recharge an iPhone or iPad, children at every age must recharge their batteries by getting a good night’s sleep.”
The factors contributing to children not getting enough sleep vary, but here are some of the top contenders:
Christine Stevens, a certified sleep consultant with Sleepy Tots Consulting, adds that the “blue wavelength of light emitted by these devices tricks the brain into thinking it’s time to wake up and inhibits the production of melatonin, a key sleep hormone. So, keep those smartphones out of their rooms at night. You can have them charge in your room to keep an eye on them, or another docking station.
Most nights, our own eight -year-old goes to bed at 8pm, our 10-year-old at 8.30pm, our 12-year-old at 9pm and our 14-year-old at 9.30pm. The more consistent bedtimes are, Cralle says, the healthier the sleep habits.
IMPORTANT FOR EVERYONE TO GET ADEQUATE REST: ‘Just as you recharge an iPhone or iPad, children at every age must recharge their batteries by getting a good night’s sleep.’