Are your kids ready for school? You have bought the clothes, supplies and stocked the pantry. But, what about what happens the night before? Sleep is just as integral to a great day as the other items listed above.
The Importance of Sleep
Many people think of sleep as an interruption in their day. However, sleep is actually much more important than that. Here are some facts about sleep.
During sleep the body repairs itself. Each day’s activities place wear and tear on the body, whether we know it or not. You don’t have to show bumps and bruises to affect changes inside the body.
At night, the body shuts down all non-vital systems so it can get to work. Damage to cells and organs are attended to during the sleep cycle. Different brain chemicals are secreted to ensure that you get to sleep and stay that way.
The average person needs about eight hours of sleep each night. For children, teens and older people this number can vary depending on age, but most aren’t even getting the minimum requirement.
Without enough sleep, the body begins to show visible signs of wear. Your brain can’t focus and concentration at work and at school becomes an issue.
The immune system can become compromised. Lack of proper time to repair can lead to increased illness and stress-related problems.
With all of that said, how much sleep does your child need?
Preschool age children are attending an educational setting at least half a day. With the increased activity, they may need longer periods of rest. In this age group, 10 to 12 hours a night is recommended. Since this is almost half the day, they may not need to take a nap in the middle of the day.
Young School-Age Children
Attending school for a full day can be a shock to their system. Your child may come home tired and sleepy after their first few full days of class. At this age, children require about the same amount of sleep as when they were preschoolers.
A nap time is built into many school schedules. You can compensate by lowering their nightly sleep regimen by an hour or so. The nap can leave them ready for activity when they come home. This period of time is important as it lets them wind down from school before bedtime.
Teenagers still need at least eight to nine hours of sleep a night. Often, activities keep them from achieving this on a regular basis, but it is a must. Trying to catch up on sleep on the weekend never works and can leave a permanent deficit that affects their waking activities.
For all school-age children, set a regular bedtime and try to stick to it. This will ensure that enough sleep is received to promote health, concentration and a positive mood.