Friday, September 8, 2017

Making Sleep a Priority

Is sleep a priority in your home?

"Is my child getting enough sleep"?  A common question my clients ask me.  To be honest it's a question I ask myself often, as sleep is a very big priority in our home.  Not just for my children, but for all of us.  How much sleep everyone in the family is getting, is important for the health and well-being of every member of your family.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has recently updated their recommendations on how much sleep each age should be getting.  But before we look at those I would like you to think about these questions to know if your child is truly getting enough sleep.

Does your child fall asleep every time you are in the car?
Does your child seem fussy, whining, extra clingy or have more emotional meltdowns during the day?
Does your child seem ready for bed much earlier then usual bedtime, most days?
Does your child often wake before 6:00 a.m. and wake up crying?

If your answer was yes, then your child may not  be getting enough sleep either during the day or for their nighttime requirement.

New Sleep Recommendations and Guidelines

Recently, the NSF, released a report recommending a wider range for appropriate sleep across all ages.  This recommendation was based on scientifically rigorous recommendations on how much sleep each age range should be getting on a daily basis.  Have a look at the range to make sure your family is getting enough sleep on a daily basis.

NSF'S New Recommended Hours

Here are the up-to-date recommendations from the National Sleep Foundations:

  • Newborns (0-3 months ): Sleep range is 14-17 hours each day (was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range is 12-15 hours (was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range is 11-14 hours (was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range is 10-13 hours (was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range is 9-11 hours (was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range is 8-10 hours (8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new category)
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours  (new category).

Sleep Tips

Everyone needs sufficient sleep and our child depend on us to ensure they have the optimal sleep environment, an age appropriate day time sleep schedule along with the independent sleep skills to ensure proper development.

We should all stop doing tasks when our bedtime arrives, rather than making sleep wait until other tasks are finished. I know I am guilty of that some days!  Sleep affects our mood, energy and health, and should be made a priority for every member of the family.

Here are some tips for ensuring everybody has healthy and relaxing sleep:

Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends.
Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
Exercise daily and ensure your child is exposed to sunlight each day.
Evaluate your bedroom for ideal temperature, sound and light.  A dimly lit room is best before bed.
Turn off all electronics 60 minutes before bedtime.

Assess if Your Family is Getting Enough?

Pay attention to your own sleeping habits and you may want to keep a sleep journal for you or your child.  Then, experiment with different sleeping times if needed - an earlier bedtime or a slightly later bedtime to see if you feel better or if your child's(ren's) behavior is improved or if they seem more rested.  This will help you determine where on the range is the right amount of sleep that is best for you/your child(ren).

Sweet Dreams!

Written by: Michelle S. Donaghy

Photo Credit: National Sleep Foundation