May 5, 2005 at 3:26 PM CDT - Updated July 26 at 6:57 PM
Are Your Children Sleeping Enough? By: Wendy Ray
You know how you feel when you don't get enough sleep, your eyes hurt and you drag all day long. Have you ever thought about what your children feel like when they don't sleep well? According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 70% of children 10 and under have problems sleeping a few times a week, but only one in 10 parents actually asks their doctor about their child's sleep problems.
Debra Rau, a school counselor, has to not only juggle her and her husband's busy work schedules, she also has to take care of her seven year old daughter Sierra, and her ten year old daughter Madison. Take two children, add swimming with the Gator swim team year round, violin lessons, and church activities, and you've got two very busy girls. So, where does sleep fit into the equation? "Madison swims until 8, comes straight home and she takes a shower, eats a snack and goes to bed," Debra says. Madison and Sierra get anywhere from nine to ten hours of sleep every night.
Southeast Pediatric Hospitalist Paul Leland says the amount of sleep a child should get depends on their age. "Babies may sleep 15 to 16 hours a day, a seven year old maybe 10 hours, as we get older we sleep less," Dr.Leland says. And that's where Dr. Leland says some parents go wrong, not placing as much importance on sleep as children get older. "As adults we tend not to sleep as many hours as we did. We may assume we don't need sleep so our kids don't need it, if we're up our kids can be up, but really kids need a structured routine."
Dr. Leland suggests your routine should include a specific time to wind things down. Make sure your children avoid late night, high energy activities, and set a bed time. Dr. Leland adds that if your child repeatedly doesn't get enough rest, he or she could suffer in school, they're not going to feel their best, and lack of sleep could also make them more prone to sickness.
Debra's well aware that a routine keeps her and her girls line. Sierra and Madison always get to bed around the same time every night. "I know it's very important so their bodies can rejuvenate and they need time to relax too," she says.
Dr. Leland says if you think your children do get enough sleep, but they're still tired all the time it may be a sign of a bigger problem. Your child could have obstructive sleep apnea, or if they're coughing a lot during the night they could have asthma or allergies.