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Our Children and the Importance of Sleep

pic_children-sleep

As a working Mom, I ask myself; is my child getting enough sleep? Wake up at 7:00, get my son up; all ready; out the door to Montessori school by 9:00 am. Normally; we are home by 6:00pm. After dinner, we play and talk (as least as much as you can with a 4 year old). As a working Mom, I get to spend time with my son in the evening. I must confess; 2 hours just doesn’t seem like enough time, so he goes to bed between 8:30-9:00 pm. As a concerned parent; I decided to do some research on how much sleep a child really needs.

Here is what I found on WebMD

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/sleep-children#1

AGE AND TOTAL HOURS OF SLEEP NEEDED

1-4 months old: 14-15 hours per day, including naps
4-12 months old: 14 -15 hours per day, including 1 or 2 naps
1-3 years old: 12-14 hours per day, including a nap
3-6 years old: 10-12 hours per day, including a nap

Sleep deprivation can cause behavior-related problems that affect your child’s daily interactions with others. A child’s body and brain need sleep. When their little bodies don’t get enough rest they may feel tired and cranky. They may not be able to think clearly and have a hard time following directions. A school or classroom activity that is normally easy may feel impossible to the child and they may become agitated and disruptive.

Sleep is not only important behaviorally, it is also crucial physically. Researchers agree that if children are sleep deprived, they may not grow and develop fundamentally on task for their age range. You’ve probably had mornings where you’ve sworn your baby got bigger overnight, and you would be right. “Growth hormone is primarily secreted during deep sleep,” says Judith Owens, M.D., director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. Studies show that lack of sleep leads to weakening of the immune system.

You may say, “this is good information; but my child just won’t sleep. My child refuses to sleep when I put him to bed”. Here are some helpful tips on how to help your little ones close their eyes and send them off to dreamland.

  • Have a consistent bedtime routine- Routines are especially important for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Creating a specific routine before bed, such as bath and story time, signals to your child what’s coming next. Knowing what comes next is comforting and relaxing. Before long, your child’s body may automatically start to become sleepy at the beginning of their routine. End the routine with turning the lights down and saying, “goodnight.”
  • Create an ideal sleeping environment- Your child’s room should promote sleeping. It’s best to keep their room dark, quiet, and cool. Some children feel more comfortable with a little light; a nightlight is perfectly acceptable. If they can’t sleep in silence from other parts of the home; use soft soothing music or a fan to create rhythmic, steady sounds.
  • Allow only 2 comfort items- While a stuffed animal may make it easier for your child, too many toys can be considered a distraction.
  • Protect them from their fears- Instead of dismissing bedtime fears, address them. If simple reassurance doesn’t work; try buying a special toy to stand guard at night.
  • TV Time- turn off the TV 2 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid food and drinks that contain caffeine- The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children not consume caffeine.

Bottom line: Children who are well rested are better prepared to regulate their emotions, think clearly and enjoy their day!

September 20th, 2016

Posted In: Uncategorized