Sleep Starved Kids?

I just finished reading an article on sleep & our kids in the latest Wondertime magazine. A mama tangent & side note is that this is my absolute favorite magazine in the world of parenting zine literature. It is refreshing in its content and written with an edge and a bit of a "throw back" to parenting in another era style. I think what I love most of all, though, is that aside from the one section of "things we love" where products are highlighted, the entire magazine is NOT focused on things that we should be buying in order to make parenting easier! My favorite thing to read each month is the segment written by Catherine Newman, the Dalai Mama. (You can read her blog here.) It is always the perfect balance of humor, sarcasm, sappy motherly love and wit!

Anyway, as I get this train back on the tracks...I was writing about this whole sleep thing. The article is called "Sleep-Starved Kids" and was a very interesting read. Written by Jack Maypole, a pediactrician and dad of two kiddos, it discusses the fact that most kids in this nation are not sleeping enough. Here are some highlights, in case you do not have time to read the whole thing:

  • Kids ages 1 to 12 should be getting a minimum of 10 - 12 hours counting sheep each night.
  • Even moderate sleep loss can have some nasty effects - moodiness, a shortened attention span, poor decision making, and increased susceptibility to illness.
  • Sleep loss disrupts the body's ability to process glucose, causing major brain freezes in the part of the brain that is responsible for concentration, impulse control, reaction time, and predicting consequences of actions (skills that are all important to our kids!)
  • A recent study conducted at Tel Aviv University revealed that sleeping an hour less for three nights reduced the cognitive abilities of 6th graders to those of 4th graders. (If that happens only after 3 days of 1 lost hour, what happens after a child hood of multiple hours lost? And, what about us mommies who have about 7 years of interrupted sleep and sleep loss? That explains why I put the ice cream away in the cupboard last night.)
  • There is a link between kids who sleep less being overweight later in life.

Soooo...what does the Dr. recommend?

A few key things:

  • Reclaim your bed...get your kiddos to sleep in their beds and to learn to fall asleep on their own and how to go back to sleep without your aid (celebrate success - a sticker chart for each night of success, or a special treat after 4 consecutive nights).
  • Limit bedtime distractions so that kids get to sleep sooner (limit reading time in bed as well as TV or video game time at bedtime). Just because kids are IN bed, does not mean they are SLEEPING.
  • Encourage a calm pre-bed routine (no video games, scary movies, arguments, running around) and a consistent, firm bedtime & promote relaxation with 10-20 minutes of reading or a book on CD.
  • For those who have a hard time relaxing their minds (ahem, mommies like me) he recommends relaxation therapy. An example is this: Use a calm, soothing tone, and begin by suggesting that your child relax his feet, then thighs, then belly, arms....on up to his eyelids. My brother and I used to do this at bedtime and we would give our muscles in each of the areas on final big flex and then release and relax and it really did seem to help us.
  • 30 - 60 minutes of outdoor romping every day will also help in preparing your kids' bodies for sleep (do not romp at bedtime, though)

I loved his final words:
"My apologies if all this has left you feeling worn out. The idea isn't to make you lose sleep worrying about your child's sleep. It's to remind you that thinking about sleep is as important as thinking about what you feed your child."
We have a couple of tips that have helped our kids sleep longer:



  1. Hi! I just found this blog through "Stuff Christians Like" and am really liking it. My husband and I used to go to Rock Harbor, too, when we lived in Orange County.

    Anyways, I wanted to comment that the book, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" is an excellent read and is on the same track as what you posted here.

    I also hope you don't mind, I linked to your blog from ours.

  2. Welcome, Jenna! We love the link, and thanks for that book recommendation.

    Enjoy those Colorado wild flowers...are they blooming yet?


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