Why Kids Need Their ZZzzzz....
As summer rolls on, many families find themselves busier than ever, with activities and plans filling up the weeks. But, without the structure of the school year, you might find yourselves more relaxed about bedtimes or ensuring that your kids get enough sleep.
For their short term and their long term health, getting enough sleep is essential for kids. For children 3 to 5 years, it is recommended they sleep 10 to 12 hours per night; for ages 6 to 12, they should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep; 13 to 18 year olds should sleep around 8 to 9 hours a day.
So why is getting enough sleep important, and why should it be made a priority, no matter what time of the year it is?
In the short term, sleep has a profound impact on cognitive function, mood, and decision making. Well rested kids will perform better in their daily activities and will respond more resiliently to whatever obstacles come their way.
In the longer term, good sleep is a key component in your child’s growth and development. During the sleep cycle, your child's body produces HGH and other necessary hormones, which help your child grow strong and healthy.
Furthermore, sleep is essential for memory consolidation. Think of those hours spent sleeping as your brains opportunity to organize and file all it learned that day!
Well rested children also benefit from an improved immune system. Tired kids are more likely to catch whatever virus is circulating amongst their peers, and are less equipped to fend off illness if they are infected -- because their bodies are tired.
Given the numerous benefits of sleep, it is important to implement some rules to best facilitate quality rest time.
As much as possible, put your kids to bed at the same time each night. Routine is key. Erratic sleep schedules can wreak havoc on your child's circadian rhythm, which can make falling asleep much more difficult.
Avoid screens before bedtime. Have your children stop using electronics half an hour or so before bedtime. Blue light from most devices is disruptive to sleep- many shows/games also leave your kids too wired to go to bed. Encourage them to read or listen to a book instead, or play with "unelectronic" toys.
Different things work for different kids— find what works for your family, and stick to it as much as possible! And remember, sleep for you as a parent is just as important -- our brains and bodies need time to recover and reset from the day, too!.