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The Importance of Sleep, Part 3

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Sleep deprivation is not just prevalent in adults, our children are also not getting enough sleep. As homeschoolers, we can be a bit more flexible with our children’s’ schedules; but all too often, we can become more lax with their sleep schedule as well.

The National Sleep Foundation, along with an expert panel from disciplines such as sleep, anatomy, physiology, pediatrics, and neurology, has revised the recommended sleep ranges for all six children and teenage groups. Here are the recommended amounts:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)

 

What are some reasons our children are failing to get the recommended amounts of sleep each night? Here are some of the ones I uncovered in my research:

  • Extra Curricular Activities
  • TV in Bedrooms/Watching TV to Fall Asleep
  • Electronic Devices Used in Bedroom
  • Caffeinated Beverages/Hidden Caffeine
  • No Consistent Sleep Schedule

 

A study from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia found that the repercussions of sleep deprivation are visible after only four nights of shorter sleep durations. The study found even one hour of missed sleep for four nights in a row could contribute to sleep deprivation. How often do we let our children stay up later during vacations? “I expected that we’d see some differences when kids get less sleep than usual,” says senior author Dr. Penny Corkum. “But finding that they’re so drastically affected in so short an amount of time is amazing.” How do we recognize sleep deprivation in our children?

  • You Have to Wake Them Every Morning
  • They Are Cranky and Irritable Throughout the Day
  • They Have Difficulty Paying Attention
  • Spontaneous Napping in Older Children
  • “Sleep In” on Weekends/Holidays
  • Hyperactivity
  • Defiant Behavior

 

As in adults, sleep is so critical for our bodies and our minds. This is even more so when it comes to a growing child. Here are a few reasons sleep is so crucial for children:

  • Sleep Promotes Growth
  • Sleep Helps the Heart
  • Sleep Affects Weight
  • Sleep Helps Immune System
  • Sleep Promotes Better Learning

 

So where does that leave us as parents? Rest assured, there are ways we can assist with the sleep health of our children.

  • Create a Solid Bedtime Routine
  • Get Them Moving Throughout the Day
  • Set the Environment for Restful Sleep/Avoid Artificial Lighting
  • Try White Noise
  • Introduce Them to Medication or Relaxation
  • Turn off All Electronics an Hour or More Before Bedtime
  • Add Another Bedtime Story

 

If you are interested or have further questions, you can visit sleepfoundation.org or sleep.org.

 

 

Michelle Martin was born into a musical family and has been teaching music for over 20 years. Besides teaching piano and voice, Michelle is a performer, a choir director, a writer, a composer, and a homeschool mom. Most recently she has published three music curricula through Schoolhouse Teachers. Music has always been a passion for Michelle, and she believes exposing a child to music is just as important as learning math or science. Michelle lives with her husband, Jim, two daughters, Zoe and Eva, and a myriad of furry and aquatic friends.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
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