According to the National Sleep Foundation, two-thirds of kids in the middle school years aren’t getting adequate sleep, which, for these ages, is 10 to 12 hours. Studies have shown over and over again that sleep-deprived children are prone to acting out, inappropriate behavior, inability to focus, depression and even weight gain, because a kid without enough energy reserves in the form of sleep tends to eat more and exercise less.
But why are kids sleeping less? It’s not so hard to see.
Today’s kids have little down time, experts say, far removed from the endless hours of long-ago childhoods. Now, nearly everyone knows a prepubescent whose days are as packed as most working adults.
Sometimes the solution is clear: make sure your children get more sleep, and be firm about it. Parents must set firm limits on bedtime and stick to it. If your 10-year-old is burning a heavy schedule in sports, have her in bed by 9.
Here are better sleep tips from the National Sleep Foundation:
- Establish a regular bed time each night for your child and do not vary from it. Similarly, the wake up time should not differ from weekday to weekend by more than one to one and a half hours.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading a story.
- Do not give your child any food or drinks with caffeine less than six hours before bedtime.
- Avoid giving your child large meals close to bedtime.
- Make after-dinner playtime a relaxing time as too much activity close to bedtime can keep children awake.
- There should be no television, radio, or music playing while your child is going to sleep.
- Make sure the temperature in your child’s bedroom is comfortable and that the bedroom is dark.
- Make sure the noise level in the house is low.
- Infants and children should be put to bed when they appear tired but still awake (rather than falling asleep in a parent’s arms, or in another room). You should avoid getting into bed with your child in order to get them to sleep.