We all know that adults need sleep and don’t get enough. Most adults report that the pressure of work, raising kids, socializing and worries about money are what keep them up at night or make them ask too much of their bodies all week. We are increasingly aware of the damage that is done to the body by a lack of sleep and yet we continue to fail ourselves with regard to that full night’s sleep we really need.
We have been clear about the needs of adults related to sleep for years, but there is increasing evidence that children and particularly teens, are not getting enough sleep either. While it might be easy to think that teens and kids are automatically getting enough sleep because they don’t work jobs all day, that assumption doesn’t take into consideration the increased pressure on kids to get into college and the interference of screen time on the computer and the phone that intrude on kid’s sleep.
Why Kids Need So Much Sleep
Beyond the obvious health needs that kids have which dictate the need for sleep, children who get enough sleep are much more likely to be able to focus at school and to have patience to attend to tasks that challenge them. Sleep can also play a major factor in sports performance and in social anxiety levels for kids.
There is increasing evidence that children that are sleep deprived do not grow as much as children that are getting enough sleep. Other research shows that children who are sleep deprived display cognitive and other physical symptoms related to a lack of rest. Your brain needs to decompress from the day and sleep hours are when it does so. Kids that are deprived of these hours of rest are not able to manage emotions as well and are often more forgetful as well as more stressed.
How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?
Children need more sleep than we used to think. The original recommendations given to parents of prior generations of kids were to make sure their kids got 8 hours of sleep. Research now shows that children need 10 to 11 hours of sleep to be able to grow, recover and learn at the rates that they are being asked to do so each day.
On top of needing increased hours of sleep compared to adults, kids also need more time to decompress at the end of the day. This applies to college age children as well. Learning is as taxing to the body as physical effort and can sometimes be more taxing than physical tasks. If your body is not allowed to wind down after undertaking such activities, studies have shown that the damage done to your health compounds over time.
How to Make Sure Your Kid Is Getting Enough Sleep
There are many ways to help your kids to sleep more. Routine is a major factor, even for older kids. Sleeping and waking at the same time every day helps with more complete and restful sleep. Napping is a great way to get more sleep and can be very helpful for teens or for small children who are tired more easily. Make sure to reduce screen time in the evening and to make sure that the family is taking some time for quiet activities before bed to help everyone wind down. According to Sustainable Planet, you might even need to get a new foam mattress for them if their current one has softened over the years.
Being able to get your kids to practice good sleep hygiene is as important as having them brush their teeth or comb their hair. Lead by example, and your kids will be set up to have good sleep habits for the rest of their life!