Sleep is a big issue in many homes. I remember having our first, who were twins. One slept seven hours when we brought them home from hospital. On the other hand we had a colic baby that rarely slept for the first three months of its life. I can still remember waking up after a full night sleep wondering if the babies were still alive. We had slept the sleep of the dead and woke up to silence. Both the babies had slept through the night – a miracle as far as we were concerned.
Psychological studies have now found a serious connection between sleep and intellectual development. The study featured in the BBC News website on September 16, 2011 states that children who have between 9 to 11 hours of sleep were more likely to be better learners. The researchers state that a lack of sleep effects memory, learning and motivation. (No surprise there! I think most sleep-deprived adults can relate!) The study goes on to state that lack of sleep distorts learning in the linguistic area thus affecting grammar, spelling and comprehension.
We knew a young couple that had completely given up on putting their two-year-old child to bed. They would just leave him up and say when he is ready he will put himself to bed. This is a true story. They were tired so they would leave him in front of the TV and they would go to bed! The problem is we, the parents, have been entrusted with our children. That makes us responsible for the outcomes. To leave this boy up was not only irresponsible but also dangerous.
The fact that children are not equipped with an on – off switch for bedtime is a shame! However, there are steps that can be taken to develop good sleepers. Children need sleep. They are growing in physical stature and in mental capacity. It is our job to help them be successful in every way they can. Next week we will discuss some “how to-s” of bedtime.