Children Need Sleep

Excerpt taken from Putting Family First; Successful Strategies for Reclaiming Family Life in a Hurry-Up World 

by William Doherty and Barbara Z Carlson

Researchers are beginning to document what many of us are seeing: bedtime rituals are now in decline. Kids nowadays are less apt to have regular times to go to bed, and without this structure, it is difficult to have bedtime rituals. Instead, children are staying up – watching television, exchanging instant messages, playing video games, or doing homework – until they decide they are ready for bed. A lot of young children fall asleep somewhere in the house and are carried to bed by a parent. At that point, a bedtime ritual involving talking, storytelling, or reading is not in the cards.


The following information is from the Better Health Channel:

Effects of Sleep Loss on Children

Selected statistics from research studies into sleep loss and its effects on children and teenagers include:
Sleep loss causes a range of schooling problems, including naughtiness and poor concentration.
Chronically sleep-deprived teenagers are more likely to have problems with impulse control, which leads to risk-taking behaviours.
Sleep problems in teenagers are associated with increased risk of disorders such as depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
High school students who regularly score C, D or F in school tests and assignments get, on average, half an hour less sleep per night than high school students who regularly get A and B grades.
Later start times at school result in reduced daytime sleepiness, higher grades and reduced negative feelings.
How much sleep is enough?

Sleep requirements differ from one person to the next depending on age, physical activity levels, general health and other individual factors. In general:
Primary school children – need about nine to 10 hours. Studies show that increasing your child’s sleep by as little as half an hour can dramatically improve school performance.
Teenagers – need about nine to 10 hours too. Teenagers have an increased sleep requirement at the time when social engagements and peer pressure cause a reduction in sleep time. Lifestyle factors such as early school start times deprive them of the required sleep-in. There is evidence that around the time of becoming a teenager, there is a shift in the sleep-wake cycle to being sleepy later in the evening with a preference for waking later.
Adults – need about eight hours, depending on individual factors. We tend to need less sleep as we age, but be guided by your own state of alertness – if you feel tired during the day, aim to get more sleep.