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How Much Sleep Do Kids Really Need?

Original: Daybreak’s Parent to Parent 

Parenting expert Jackie Insinger educates parents on three key things during the above segment:

1) How much sleep our children really need
2) What the learning, behavior and health consequences are if they don’t get the optimal amount
3) Key strategies to maximize that much needed sleep

According to a large national poll of school aged-kids, 70% of respondents said they wish they could get more sleep. A great message for parents, because although most kids might push back actually going to sleep at night, the kids themselves recognized that they needed more sleep overall to function at a more productive level. A strong message all parents should heed!

Inadequate sleep is a health issue and needs to be viewed as such. The consequences of not getting your optimal amount of sleep are widespread and extremely detrimental for mental, behavioral, emotional and physical health.

Many of us, kids and adults alike, feel that if we spend just a little more time awake we can accomplish more or be more productive, yet research is pouring out that sleep is intricately tied to learning and memory consolidation. Pushing back bedtime can backfire, as sleep is necessary for optimal school performance, stabilizing mood, increasing tolerance for stress and keeping our immune systems strong. And the list goes on.

Strategies to make sure your kiddos get their recommended amount of zzz’s can move beyond incorporating traditional sleep hygiene rules. Sleep hygiene strategies include creating a dark, cool and quiet room for your child to sleep in, having a consistent bed time and instilling a relaxing and predictable bedtime routine to help your child wind down after a busy day. In addition to these rules, it’s important to make sure you PRIORITIZE sleep. Before you decide to delay bedtime for an activity, sport or homework, make sure you weigh your options now that you know detrimental the consequences can be.

In addition, make sure you keep devices out of the bedroom. Over 75% of school-aged children have at least one device in their room, and not only can it provide a distraction that can take away from much needed sleep, but the light that is emitted from the screen actually delays the onset of melatonin production — which is what regulates our sleep cycle — and causes a poorer quality of sleep. Another important factor is exercise. Exercise has been proven to help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and have an improved quality of sleep. The key is not to exercise right before bed.

Optimal amount of sleep for the ages:

Birth – 3 years = 12-14 hours
Preschool Age = 11-13 hours
Elementary (5-12) = 10-11 hours
Adolescents (12-18) = 8.5-9.5 hours
Adults = 7-9 hours

 

To learn more about how to set your child up for success, contact Jackie at Insinger Insights or by calling (303) 596-0020.

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