Dear Peacock Family Center parents:
In today’s newsletter, I would like to focus on a very important topic in the early childhood environment, that of sleep. As we all know, sleep is essential for the healthy development of young childrens’ brains and bodies. Picture this scenario: A child regularly comes to school without adequate sleep for a variety of reasons. This child, as a result, is more prone to accidents, accelerated stress responses, illnesses and immune challenges, excessive moodiness, difficulties getting along with peers, and difficulties in focusing for any periods of time. This child has challenges in learning, socializing, being and staying healthy, and basically has to continually be one or even several steps behind another child who regularly comes to school rested and with adequate sleep. Of course there are occasions when sleep is a challenge for all children. I am not referring to those isolated nights, as we all have them. I am mostly referring to a chronic sleep deprivation, which unfortunately we are seeing more and more in early childhood environments,
According to Pediatric sleep experts and the National Sleep Foundation, the following is a breakdown of the amount of sleep that is recommended (total hours of sleep per day, including naps) for children between 0-12 years of age.
0-2 months: up to 18 hours
2 months to one year: 14-15 hours
1-3 years: 12-15 hours
3-5 years: 11-13 hours
5-12 years: 10-11 hours
Researchers at Bradley Hospital and Brown Medical School have seen that on the average, young children are getting only 8.7 hours a day of sleep, and less than than 9.5 hours in a given day, and have identified this sleep deprivation among children as a serious crisis in our society.
Early childhood researchers and pediatricians have written volumes around sleep and sleep routines that are essential for parents and for educators. Here are some of the results of their research.
- Children usually between the ages of one and three who nap will usually be less cranky and will sleep better at night.
- Children need to have had enough exercise during their day so they are tired at nighttime.
- A child who has been fed throughout the day a diet of foods with a high sugar content will more likely have a much more difficult time sleeping at nap time and at bed time.
- Bed times should be the same time each night.
- Bed times should be a positive and relaxing experience and as such should occur without the influence of TV, videos, and computers.
- The child needs to have a positive association with sleep.
- The parent/caregiver should not need to help the child fall asleep, rather, the adult needs to help the child relax so the child can fall asleep on their own.
- Children who fall asleep on their own will be more likely able to have an easier time falling back asleep after night wakings.
Bed times routines are essential for young children, as they help assist the relaxing process. Save your child’s favorite relaxing, non-stimulating activities until last, and then have them occur in the child’s bedroom.
Here is a “typical” bed time routine that works for many children:
- Have a light sugar-free snack. Try to limit beverage amounts.
- Take a bath.
- Put on pajamas.
- Brush teeth. Use the toilet/change diaper.
- Read a story, cuddle, listen to quiet sleepy music or sing a lullaby, but mostly give the child your undivided love and attention.
- Make sure the room is quiet and the temperature is comfortable. (And try to keep the same temperature all night.) Adjust lighting to the child’s comfort level, and keep this level the same all night.
- Put the child in their bed/crib, (if they aren’t already there).
- Say good night, hug and kiss, and leave the room.
Let’s all put our best energies forward into allowing our children to have a restful night’s sleep each and every night. And then do the same for yourself…..