Parenting: The importance of sleep

September 28, 2011

It means that of the 70-million Americans experts say suffer from sleep deprivation, a large percentage of them are youngsters.

As most parents know, lack of sleep can cause a lot of stress and difficulty for a child and even cause concentration problems at school. But one pediatrician from Loyola University Health System takes it a step further. In a recent interview, Dr. Hanna Chow said sleep deprivation can cause a child to have a more negative outlook on life, and mood swings.

She says it's important for parents to know how much sleep their child needs, and then make sure they get it. For instance, toddlers she says should be getting 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night, with perhaps a nap during the day. And school age children should get no less than 10 hours of sleep, and teenagers need 9 to 10 hours ideally.

Sleep is the only time our brains get a break, and are not being constantly bombarded by stimulation. As Dr. Chow puts it, "Our bodies need a chance to rest and recharge, and this comes only with sleep." So protect the amount of sleep your child gets. Here are some suggestions from pediatricians:

1. Create a simple sleep routine for your child and stick to it
2. Make sure your youngster understands the importance of sleep
3. Consider stopping all stimulating activity an hour before bedtime, like turning off the TV or video game - this will help the body and mind begin to relax

We can never get back the sleep we lose, but we can always begin anew. After all, better sleep leads to less stress and a better quality of life. Isn't that what we all want?

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