Sleep is a necessity, a vital part of a healthy life. It’s also often the least consistent part of a child’s daily routine. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most American school aged children (ages 5-12) are sleep deprived. School aged kids need 10-11 hours of sleep a night but often get much less. Sleep deprivation can affect their ability to learn, concentrate and focus. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to problems with problem solving skills, emotional health, social interactions, and mood. Their brains need the growth and development that takes place only during sleep. Children that are sleep deprived have an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, emotional problems, and problems learning. Many parents describe difficulties getting their kids to sleep. Increased use of video games, TV and computers before bed can cause difficulties falling asleep, nightmares, sleep disturbances, and poor sleep quality. The facts are clear, the numbers are startling and yet most of us have let our kids stay up past their bedtime.
How can parents start to reverse this trend?
First, have a consistent bedtime routine. Healthy Learning Paths teaches kids the “High Five for Sleep”. Second, active kids sleep better at night, so encourage at least one hour of active play a day. Next, kids, like adults, need a quiet transition to bedtime. Turn off the screens at least one hour before starting the consistent bedtime routine. Kids need 10-11 hours of sleep a night, EVERY NIGHT, even on weekends. Let’s make “Healthy the New Happy for Kids!” Happy Sleeping!
-By Virginia Hrywnak, DO