Children and Sleep: The New Rules

Children and Sleep The New Rules 1

A new research study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that daytime naps of at least 30 minutes help infants (6 to 12 months old) to retain new behaviors and information they have just learned.  We have long known that sleep time is used by the brain for memory consolidation.  One bit of information that took the researchers somewhat by surprise is that children seem to be more receptive to remembering when they are drowsy. This state can in fact be a period of heightened attention and is conducive to accepting, remembering, and later using learned behavior.

Another finding was that allowing the child to take a nap when they were showing signs of being sleepy was preferable to keeping on a strict schedule.  While this can be difficult to implement, parents should try to use this approach whenever possible.

A tip from Dr. Bob: Reading to your child before they fall asleep has been found to promote language development.Children and Sleep The New Rules 2

Check out these articles for help with sleep issues in young children:
Parents’ Guide on Sleep for Babies
How to Get Your Kids to Sleep
Getting Your Toddler to Sleep in Their Own Bed After Co-Sleeping 
Sleep Problems and What to Do About Them 

A study at Idaho State University found that adolescents who had sleep difficulties once a week, every day, or almost every day in the last 12 months were about 47% more likely to have alcohol-related interpersonal problems, 47% more likely to engage in binge drinking, and 80% more likely to engage in sexual activities that they later regret.  Other studies have shown that poor sleep leads to poor academic achievement.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep per day.  Unfortunately about 45% of adolescent don’t get enough sleep.  This is due to a variety of reasons such as social and academic obligations, poor sleep hygiene, and 24/7 Internet access wherever they re.

Parents need to discuss sleep hygiene with their teens.  If you feel your teen is not getting enough sleep, you may want to ask their physician to discuss this with them at their next checkup.  The basics are to encourage them to go to bed at the same time.  Turn off electronics a half hour before bed (this means cellphones, tablets, and computer).  Reading or listening to quiet music can help induce cozy sleepiness.

Related: Adolescent Insomnia Should Be Taken Seriously