I’m copying and pasting a recent article from the Souther Early Childhood Association. I thought that parents may find this interesting and it’s a nice a quick read about the importance of sleep and recommended amounts.
One little tidbit that was not mentioned though was the importance of having a bedtime routine. I have found that the events leading up to bedtime are very important to make it a good experience for you and your child. Consistency is key with routines. The key is to get your child’s body into a rhythm so they get tired at the same time every night. A bedtime routine should start the same every night. About an hour before you want your child to go to bed, you should be starting the routine. It is very beneficial to eliminate television or any stimulating technology such as video games, at this time. I would definitely recommend ending the bedtime routine with a story to ensure that you have reading with your child part of everyday.
Here are some links related to sleep and bedtime:
Here is the article from SECA:
We hear it all the time: our children aren’t getting enough sleep and our busy modern lifestyle is to blame. So, how much sleep do children need, how much sleep are they getting, and what exactly determines how much is “enough” sleep, anyway? That’s precisely what a group of researchers from the University of South Australia wanted to know, so they did a little sleuthing and found 300 relevant studies dating all the way back to 1897. Their research, published in the March issue of Pediatrics, led them to some interesting findings:
Children get less and less sleep every year.
Over the 112 years covered in the study, the amount of time children spend sleeping has seen a decline of about 0.71 minutes each year.
The recommended amount of sleep has declined at an almost identical rate.
Age-specific recommendations for sleep duration have decreased by 0.73 minutes each year.
Children have always gotten less sleep than recommended.
Whatever the recommendation of the day, children have consistently slept about 37 minutes less than that recommended amount.
Modern life and overstimulation have always been blamed.
In the late 19th century it was gaslights and trolley cars; today, computers and other digital devices take the heat for keeping our children –and us– awake. For more than 100 years, it has been widely believed that new technologies keep children from being able to wind down and go to sleep.
Sleep recommendations are subjective.
Perhaps the most significant finding is that there really isn’t any empirical evidence telling us exactly how much sleep children should get. According to Tim Olds, senior author of the study, “it’s an arbitrary public-health line in the sand that people draw.”
What does all of this mean for children today?
Though it’s difficult to determine just how many hours of sleep children need, scientists seem to have a fairly good idea. After all, even though recommendations have changed, the total change over more than a century has only been about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Whatever the optimal amount, it seems that there may be at least some merit to the concern that children aren’t sleeping enough: research shows that 20% of children report being sleepy during the day and having trouble focusing in school, and that 60% say they would like to get more sleep. Currently, the National Sleep Foundation in Arlington, Virginia sets the following guidelines:
- Babies from 3 to 11 months: 14 to 15 hours
- Toddlers from 1 to 3 years: 12 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers: 11 to 13 hours
- Elementary schoolers: 10 to 11 hours
- Older children and teens: at least 8.5 hours
Whether you are a parent, teacher, or caregiver, you know the children you see each day well enough to know when they’re just not performing at their best. When you see this happening, work with parents –and doctors if necessary– to determine if a lack of sleep may be the cause. If so, take steps to ensure that the child not only has enough time in his or her schedule for sleep, but also has good sleep habits and an evening routine that is conducive to sleep. If bedtime or naptime seem to be a constant struggle, see the parent handout (right) for tips on helping children get to sleep.
- Bonnie Rochman, “A History of Kids and Sleep: Why They Never Get Enough,” TIME Healthland, February 13, 2012, <http://healthland.time.com/2012/02/13/a-history-of-kids-and-sleep-its-never-enough/>, accessed on February 15, 2012.
- Lisa Ann Matricciani, Tim S. Olds, Sarah Blunden, Gabrielle Rigney, and Marie T. Williams, “Never Enough Sleep: A Brief History of Sleep Recommendations for Children” [Abstract], Pediatrics, February 13, 2012, <http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/02/08/peds.2011-2039>, accessed on February 15, 2012.