21 Aug 2014
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Children Need Their Sleep!

Children Need Their Sleep!
What do Ben Franklin and today’s pediatricians have in common? They share similar recommendations when it comes to sleep.  Ben Franklin put it this way in his “Poor Richard’s Almanack” published in 1758, “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”    

Today’s research on children and sleep backs Franklin up on some of these claims.  Children who sleep longer and have regular bedtimes have higher IQs and perform better on tests for reading, math and spacial awareness. Too little sleep negatively impacts growth as the most intense release of growth hormone during each day occurs shortly after deep sleep begins. Lack of sleep is also shown to impact concentration and motor skills.  

“Sleep is as important as eating well and getting physical activity,” says Dr.  Janice Lopez of Pediatric Partners LLC in Bloomfield, CT.  
No one knows for certain what is happening during sleep that results in these impacts.  Scientists studying sleep believe sleep restores and recharges the brain in a number of ways including replacing chemicals, sorting through the information gleaned during the day, forming memories, and solving problems. 

Dr. Lopez recommends parents establish a bedtime routine for healthy sleep habits. 

“Like all good habits, healthy sleep routines take practice, but the benefits in physical and emotional health are enormous and life-long,” said Dr. Lopez. 

Bedtime routines can vary depending on the child’s age, and Dr. Lopez offers the following suggestions:  

  • For all ages: A healthy sleep routine begins with a calming period 30-60 minutes before the actual “bedtime,” with no computers or television, plenty of physical affection, and a regular order of events.  
  • Infants: A routine with a young infant may include bathing, dressing, reading while being held, and feeding.
  • Younger children: With a young child, bathing, dressing, snuggling and talking about the day, and reading together. School-age children: Bathing or showering, talking about the day, and reading (even if it is reading alone or with parents and siblings reading together quietly in the same room).  
  • Teenagers: For teens the nighttime routine may go longer into the night due to work schedules, activities and homework, but it is still important for parents to be sure electronics and devices are turned off at a reasonable hour and that teens are actually going to sleep.  
For more information on sleep, sleep recommendations for children, and research on sleep, visit the National Sleep Foundation at  http://www.sleepfoundation.org/ 

The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance is a statewide advocacy organization working to ensure that all children are healthy, safe and ready for lifelong success. Visit us at  earlychildhoodalliance.com, find us on Facebook at  www.facebook.com/ctearlychildhoodalliance or follow us on Twitter at  www.twitter.com/cteca. The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance is supported by the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, the Fairfield County Community Foundation and our member organizations.

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