Tired kids are hardly a new problem. A new report says doctors have been worried about it for more than a hundred years.
Published in the journal Pediatrics, this report looked at 32 studies on sleep and children from 1897 until 2009. They found that the amount of sleep recommended by experts had decreased on average by 0.7 minutes per year, as did the actual amount of sleep that children are getting a night. The amount of sleep recommended has consistently been 37 minutes greater than the actual amount of sleep kids are getting. No matter how much sleep kids are getting, experts have always assumed that they need more.
So, what is it that is keeping kids up? Over the years, doctors have always blamed kids’ lack of sleep on modern life and technology. In the early 1900s, it was artificial lighting, radio and then cinema. By the 1990s, of course, video games, the Internet, and cell phones. To this day, we still worry about the effect of cell phones. In 2011, a Sleep in America poll found that 18% of teens are woken up in the middle of the night by phone calls, texts, or emails on their cell phones at least a few times a week.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, school-aged children who are 12 and under need at least 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night, while teenagers need 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours of sleep. But almost half of all teens are getting less than 8 hours a night. Lack of sleep, unfortunately, has been associated with poor school performance, irritability, depression, obesity, injuries and accidents.
Some experts say that parents should not to be too concerned if their child getting a little more or a little less than is recommended, but to pay close attention to your child’s behavior. If they’re sleepy, grumpy, or have trouble focusing at school the next day, chances are they need more sleep.
It is very important to create good sleeping habits for your children, and to stick to the bedtime routine. Do quiet pre-bedtime activities, such as reading, so they are not over stimulated before bed. Also, put your kids to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends. Don’t be afraid to be firm about the bedtime. All kids will try to grab any time they can to stay awake, but it is necessary to be consistent when teaching your kids good sleep habits.
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