How do I learn

Do you get enough sleep? How do you feel when you haven’t had enough? How does it affect your mood and your concentration?

Your kids experience the same feelings of exhaustion as you do, when they don’t get the hours of sleep they need. With a lack of proper sleep, your child may be grumpier, unfocused, exhibit lower energy levels (drowsiness) and feel more stressed. Sleep is critical for overall health, thinking, concentration and memory. Our kids simply won’t test as well in school or be able to focus in class or during their after-school activities, if they don’t get enough.

Sleep is a valuable part of everyday health. Your body and your brain need sleep in order to develop and function properly. Sleeping is busy time for your brain as it sorts and stores information you’ve learned during the day and helps you solves problems.

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From a WebMD feature: “Driving fast, breaking curfew, arguing, shoplifting. Teenagers can push your patience, but unfortunately, some kids go as far as blatantly flouting rules or breaking the law, often with tragic results. What’s with this rebellious streak? How can parents funnel it into less risky business? All teens go through similar phases — the need for independence, a separate identity, testing authority. It’s part of growing up; it’s also linked to developmental changes in the brain.”

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Recommended amounts of sleep

Studies show that school-aged children, especially teens, get less than the recommended amounts of sleep. What are the recommended amounts of sleep for you and your children? Is everyone in your home hitting those target hours? If not, it’s never too late to slide bedtime back a little earlier in order to make sleep health a priority in your home.

Hold a family discussion, especially if you have teens. Include them and talk with them about why sleep is important and teach them how it affects both their brain and body. How do they feel when they haven’t had enough? Create a chart with pros and cons. Co-create a new bedtime routine and schedule with your kids, so they feel included and empowered.

Age Recommended amount of sleep
Newborns 16-18 hours a day
Preschool-aged children 11-12 hours a day
School-aged children At least 10 hours a day
Teens 9-10 hours a day
Adults (including the elderly) 7-8 hours a day

Source: NIH

Families are busy. Many parents are working longer hours and our schedules are packed with school and after-school activities. Do family mornings begin earlier? Are bed times later? While going to bed a little later may not seem like a big deal at that moment, it is. Each hour of lost sleep adds up, night after night and you never get them back. This is called “sleep debt.”

Sleep debt is critical because research shows that a lack of sleep over time contributes to health problems such as obesity, depression, diabetes, stroke, substance abuse, hypertension and heart disease. Sleep debt also causes the more familiar difficulties in concentration, memory, control of emotion, and reduced reaction time.

As parents, it is our responsibility to protect our children’s sleep. Make sleep a priority by infusing new family sleep rules and breaking “tired” old habits for you and your kids. Be the primary example for them. This will help to create a happier and more peaceful home environment.

Establish a regular bedtime for all family members – and stick to it seven days a week. Ban the use of all screens and electronics an hour before bed, studies have proven the light from the screens disrupts our sleep patterns. Get an app like Parental TimeLock that will automatically lock your device (or your child’s) at a designated time or when their allotted screen time is up.

Tips to getting more sleep

  • Avoid phones, TVs, tablets, computers for an hour before bedtime.
  • Have a regular, relaxing bedtime routine and create a calm atmosphere (ex. bathing, reading, playing calm music, turning the lights down)
  • Get enough exercise – in the morning or late afternoon.
  • Avoid heavy, spicy or sugary foods 4-6 hours before bedtime.
  • Make the bedroom a quiet, dark and relaxing environment.
  • Model good sleep hygiene for your children.

How Much Sleep is Enough? NIH

Can You Ever Repay Your Sleep Debt? Science Life

Can You Catch Up on Lost Sleep? Scientific American

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Problem Sleepiness? NIH