The Importance of Sleep

Aug 23, 2019, 17:12 PM by Dr. Sally Robinson
The Importance of Sleep

Keeping Kids Healthy by Dr. Sally Robinson

Recently there has been some very comprehensive studies on successful students, improved behavior, improved IQ and over all wellbeing.  There seems to be three items that enable a student’s success: diet, sleep and exercise.

Sleep time needs to be as restful as possible and the following are tips to help you child sleep soundly.

  • Make sure your child has a good sleep environment that is quiet, dark and comfortable.
  • Your child’s bed is only for sleep, not play
  • Create a soothing bedtime routine with friendly interaction between parent and child.
  • Leave the room before the child goes to sleep.
  • Keep bedtime schedules consistent, including lights out and wake ups.
  • Set limit for reading in bed.
  • Have your child go to bed when only moderately tired to reduce resistance.
  • Do not change your routine to reduce demands and tantrums.
  • Do not allow a television or computer in your child’s bedroom.
  • For older children enforce electronic curfew.
  • Video games should be stopped an hour or two before bedtime
  • Keep the evening environment as calm as possible, avoiding arguments, violent TV programs and active play.

Toddlers need about 10-13 hours of sleep out of a 24 hour while an 11 to 13 year old need 10.  Sleep needs do not drop significantly as children mature into adolescents but the sleep time for adolescents tend to fall.  The reasons are a combination of biologic delays in circadian rhythms tend to move sleep times later and later. This is combined with homework demands, sports, after-school jobs, dating, and electronics causing decreased hours for sleep.  Some teens develop a sleep disorder called delayed sleep phase in which the biologic shift is more pronounced leading to extreme difficulty falling asleep and waking up at the desired times.  Lack of adequate sleep can affect teenagers’ ability to concentrate and impair performance academically and in sports.

Adolescents may make up for inadequate sleep by “bingeing” on sleep during the week-end.  This can make it more difficult during school days to wake up in the morning.  It is important to try to create a more consistent sleep schedule.  Try to make a rule that they cannot sleep later than 10:00 AM on the weekends.  For more information there is a book published by the American Academy of Pediatrics called: Sleep, What Every Parent Needs to Know by Rachel Y. Moore, MD which may be helpful.

Sally Robinson, MD  Clinical Professor
UTMB Pediatrics - Children's Complex Care
Also see:  Pediatric Primary Care