Good sleep cru­cial for a healthy life

Stick to a rou­tine and avoid hav­ing TV and smart­phones in the bed­room

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - THE WASH­ING­TON POST

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.’

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