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Is your child getting enough sleep?

It’s time again for daylight savings time to spring forward. Other than setting our clocks ahead, we may not pay much attention. BEWARE, our body clocks don’t switch as fast as our cell phones. For most people, it takes a minimum of one week for our bodies to change but may take even longer than that for our children. Parents can expect more meltdown and even hear “I’m not tired yet!” And then there are the mornings that feel too early that can tax even the most patient parent. The good news is that bodies do get back in sync

Adequate sleep plays a key role in the ability to control one’s behavior, attention span and our own emotions.  Sleep is fundamental to healthy brain development. Children who have adequate sleep:

  • Have higher grade point averages
  • Have higher reading scores
  • Experience fewer accidents and get sick less often
  • Get along better with others
  • Maintain better focus
  • Are less likely to be overweight –carbohydrates craving happen when tired

The time change is only one factor effecting sleep. We are hearing more and more about the importance of sleep but we are also learning that the lack of sleep can be a culprit in our child’s behavior. “Our children are suffering from a lack of sleep and it’s causing misery for all of us. Every child has ‘bad days,’ but when a child is fatigued, his/her most challenging behaviors are more rampant. He/she loses the ability to ‘regulate’ his/her action and responses and, as a result, the intensity and frequency of misbehavior increases exponentially. “(Mary Sheedy Kurchinka, Sleepless in America).

How do we determine if a child is misbehaving or not getting enough sleep?
What is the recommended average hours of sleep needed during a 24-hour period?

  • Infant – 12 months                         14 to 18 hours
  • Toddler 13 to 36 months             13 hours (including a nap)
  • Preschooler 37 to 60 months             11 to 12 hours (including nap)
  • School-age 6 to 12 years             10 to 11 hours
  • Adolescent 13 to 19 years             25 hours
  • Adults                                                 25 hours

What might be signs of missing sleep?

  • May get ‘wired” instead of drowsy
  • Doesn’t wake up on their own in the morning
  • Experiences physical ailments like stomach aches or headaches
  • Is crabby, anxious, or uncooperative in the morning
  • Difficulty getting along with others and social situations
  • Has trouble staying on task, attention and focus
  • Loses it over “little things” with high emotion

Missing sleep may be due to:

  • Irregular schedules
  • Too much light in the room
  • Lack of physical activity or activity at the wrong time
  • Missing the “window of opportunity” for sleep
  • Too much screen time, computers, IPad, TV, phones,
  • Stimulants

You are not the only one. You can make a difference. You can’t make your child sleep, but you can set the stage.

  • Have a regular routine each night (brushing, stories, back rubs)
  • Don’t cut out naps – overly tired children may be harder to put to sleep
  • Keep bedtimes regular even on weekends when we’re tempted to let them sleep in
  • “UNPLUG” Limit screen time near bedtime and No TV or computer in the bedroom
  • Use bedtime to connect to your child, create a sense of security that can nudge your child toward sleep

When you’re tired how does your response to your child’s/children’s behavior change? Are you a lark or a night owl? Your behaviors impact your child’s behaviors. If you were a child, would you want to sleep in your home?

For more resources on children’s sleep,contact West Dakota Parent & Family Resource Center at 701-456-0007 or toll free 1-877-264-1142.