Is my kid going to bed at the "right" time?
Summer evenings have to be some of the best times. Doesn't it feel amazing when you're enjoying time outside, or riding around, or doing whatever...and you look at your phone to realize it's only 8:00 and the sun hasn't begun to set? The days are long, the lightning bugs are bright, and the kids are even playing outside. All of a sudden it's the middle of August and the list of things to do before school starts is staring us down like a six-year-old at bedtime. The countdown is on! In my school district school starts one week from today.
Folks often ask me if bedtime is a big deal, and if sleep matters that much. To tell you the truth I wasn't really sure, so years ago I started asking questions and more carefully observing mornings of kids, parents, and my own daughter and her friends. The resounding answer is YES.
Sleep covers an unbelievable multitude of ills that go way beyond CMS (Cranky Morning Syndrome). You, or someone you love, may suffer from CMS. Symptoms include whining, crying, rushing to get ready, excessive argument over trivial matters, explosive outbursts of silliness, or difficulty eating breakfast. Symptoms lasting four hours or longer...wait, wrong commercial! Kidding aside, missing out on just one hour of sleep for four nights in row can create real issues for your child.
A 2014 article from Parents Magazine says that getting enough sleep promotes growth, helps the heart, and help boost immunity. It actually can increase a child's attention span and increase achievement, while the lack of sleep can make your child more likely to be overweight and to become injured during the day. Personally, I see a lack of sleep make kids moody, weepy, argumentative, and well, tired. So how much sleep is enough? The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following:
Let me challenge you to some old school math. If your child needs to get up at 7:30 am, what time do they need to go to bed? Mmmhmm. And what time have they been going to bed? Yeeeeeaahhhhh. One school in Wisconsin published the following sleep recommendations which aren't far off:
The good news is that you can start building good sleep habits any time. The most common recommendation in the many articles I read indicate that the best way help your child get enough sleep is to create a consistent bed ritual. Rituals and routines trigger the brain to understand and prepare for what is coming next. The best evening routines include a bath or shower, the putting away of devices two or more hours before bedtime, a light snack, and reading. If you've never read to your child before bed it's never too late to start, although your 16-year-old may have some questions for you.
Remember that boundary setting is important here. You have to set the parameters of what goes on at bedtime. Things like refusing to sleep in their own bed and throwing tantrums need to be lovingly dealt with. After all, you need to get sleep, too!
Get the sleep routine down for better days from A to Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. For more tips on better sleep for you and your child, check out the following websites.
*Snoopy in honor of Mrs. Simala