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My son is a sleeper. He always has been. I would love to
take full credit for his love of sleep, but the truth is that he's just like
his dad. He can sleep anywhere, at any time of day without any special sleep
requests. His sister, on the other hand, will hold her eyelids open as long as
humanly possible. She doesn't like to miss things. But that's another story.
The only catch about having the great sleeper is that any
blip in the normal sleep routine can really shake things up. You can imagine
my dismay when I saw his soccer schedule: Every Thursday night, he shaves off
at least 30 minutes from his normal sleep schedule, and every Friday morning he
lobbies for a four-day school week.
We hear about the importance of sleep often. We know kids
need sleep. We see what happens to them if they don't get enough sleep. And
yet, sometimes it's hard to prioritize sleep.
I can't set the soccer schedule, and I'm not willing to take away the one sport that he loves because of the
timing. So we'll get through 10 Thursdays of late nights and 10 Fridays of
cranky mornings, and then we'll get back on track.
According to the National
Sleep Foundation, preschoolers need 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day (this
includes naps), kids between the ages of 6 and 13 need nine to 11 hours and
teens need eight to 10 hours.
Between school, sports and other activities, sometimes these
numbers simply seem too high. We need to pay attention to them, though.
According to the medical experts at SLEEP
2015 and this recap of the conference on The
Huffington Post, sleep plays a vital role in the growth and development of
It's time to stop making excuses, fellow parents. We need to
bring back sleep. Here are 4 big reasons why:
1. Sleep debt causes inattention and aggression
We send our kids off to school each day with full bellies
and plenty of food to make it through 6+ hours of learning. But is this enough?
No. While a nutritious breakfast certainly feeds the brain
and prepares kids for the day ahead, only 11 hours of sleep can consistently get them through with focus.
When kids are low on sleep, they are also low on attention.
Unlike tired, spaced out adults, under-slept kids are more likely to present as
hyper, impulsive and even aggressive.
2. Sleep debt impacts
When adults are low on sleep they tend to feel irritable.
Every little thing seems to go wrong at once. Kids feel that, too, only their
moods tend to be a little bit bigger. Whereas a tired adult might snap at someone
who bothers them, a tired child gets face-to-face and yells. Whereas a tired
adult might shed a few tears, a tired child is likely to have a full-blown
Is your child talking back? Being aggressive or just
generally unpleasant to a sibling? Did you get an email that he isn't listening
in class? Or that he no longer follows directions?
Lack of sleep causes behavioral problems. It's hard to
listen, follow directions and maintain a kind demeanor when you're low on
sleep. Investigate your child's sleep habits before you look for other causes.
4. Sleep debt makes you sick
When you're low on sleep, your immunity tanks. According to
Clinic, people who don't get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after
being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also impact how quickly you recover
from a virus.