With all the busy things a family does, from schlepping to soccer games to catching up with friends over dinner, getting enough sleep doesn’t always seem possible. After a whirlwind start of the school year, we spent our weekend doing the things that had to be done—checking things off our list—and catching up on sleep between loads of laundry.
When we arrived at 9 a.m. soccer on Saturday, I could already see the difference in my son’s demeanor. He does best with an average of nine to 10 hours of sleep each night. I’m an eight- to nine-hour girl myself, though I often survive on much less.
During sleep, the brain and body get a chance to grow and heal. Lack of sleep can cause deficits in attention and concentration, and make problem solving and thinking more difficult. Adequate rest also helps the body fight off illnesses and stay healthy.
There is a long list of benefits to getting enough sleep, especially in kids who actually need more sleep than adults. Children from ages 5-12 need 10 or more hours each night to be at their best. But that’s just a rule of thumb. You can usually tell whether a child is sleep deprived if you know them well. My son gets pink circles under his eyes, and he doesn’t deal well with challenges when he hasn’t had enough sleep. Check out these benefits to kids who sleep the optimal amount nightly:
- Increased patience and attention span
- Better mood throughout the day
- Improved creativity and ability to come up with new ideas and solve problems
- Ability to deal with difficult situations and frustration better
- Better ability to listen
- Improved memory
Kids want to savor every last waking moment. It’s hard to understand the benefits of sleeping so many hours of the day, especially when there’s a new Wii game vying for their attention.
Talking to kids about sleep, the importance of it, and why we dream the outlandish things we dream can help them welcome this restorative time.
While sleep is vital for the entire body, the brain receives special benefits during sleep. The deep sleep portion of the sleep cycle, which generally takes place toward the end of a night of sleep, is the time during which dreams occur. Dreams are believed to relate to feelings and memories. The deep sleep or dream portion of a sleep cycle has been found to be important for memory and learning.
It’s easy to fall into the bad habit of existing on less than enough sleep. To stay healthy and live a balanced life, though, getting back to a solid sleep schedule is good for the whole family.
Millions of Americans suffer from sleep issues. If you are concerned about whether your family’s sleep habits are healthy, or if you are having difficulty establishing a sleep routine because of insomnia or other sleep issues, consider seeking professional guidance from:
- Capitola Sleep Medicine Center, at 815 Bay Ave., Ste. B in Capitola.
- Central Coast Sleep Disorders, at 150 Carnation Dr., Ste. 4 in Freedom.