Raising sleep-smart kids is simple…and pays off big time. Teach your family to prioritize sleep now because studies indicate sleep will be a priority for them in the future.
According to Dr. Meir Kryger, professor at the Yale School of Medicine and author of The iGuide to Sleep and a contributor to Principles and Practices of Sleep Medicine. Breathe through the sticker shock of the cost of the entire textbook – you can download individual chapters for Kindle.
Why is it important we raise sleep-smart kids? Some form of regular rest is hard-wired into existence for 5 reasons:
1. For protection
2. To conserve energy
3. To repair and rejuvenate
4. To consolidate/process/integrate memories and help in learning
5. To rid the brain of accumulated “trash” – chemicals that are not helpful to long-term health.
I would add a 6th reason – it’s feels great. An intentional bedtime routine and the sleep that follows is something to anticipate with delight – as much as a meal lovingly prepared. If we’ve lost the sweetness of that time of day when we wind down for sleep, relegating it to an ought that prevents us from “real” productivity, caring for children offers us an opportunity to reclaim the preciousness of this time in the day.
What kind of messages?
What kind of messages are you giving the child in your care about sleep and sleepytime? Do you actively engage with the child yet still allow for age-appropriate independence in the bedtime routine? Is this something positive in your family?
Looking forward to bedtime as a period for positive and nurturing bonding rather than a duty to be raced through is a win for all concerned. Those 20 to 30 minutes before lights out are going to happen anyway – why not give children the best messages about their routines and sleep? Sleep is a life-enhancing activity for everyone. Get that message across when children are young. Battles about going to bed and sleep during the teen years may not vanish, but the value of sleep will be there for the young adult to reclaim, and the future young parent to pass on to the next generation.
And you just might be contributing to solving the epidemic of sleep deprivation.
Respecting sleep is the #1 way to raise a sleep-smart kid.
Have you ever left your child with a new baby sitter for whom the entire evening was about getting the kid asleep so she can make phone calls? (or text, or raid the pantry, or watch Netflix?) I’m guessing you never contracted that sitter again…unless you were desperate. And even then, outside of having to go to work or race out on a emergency, you probably cancelled your plans.
The first step in raising a sleep-smart kid is to respect sleep, honor the process. Don’t dismiss it the way a bad babysitter does.
I have a friend whose husband is so exhausted and stressed from work and his long commute, he crashes in front of the television as his daughter is being put to bed. My friend laments that tuck-in time with her own dad was a beautiful memory – those 10-20 minutes a day formed her relationship with him. If she could add one simple bedtime ritual it would be to give her daughter similar memories.
Just one thing…
This week, pick one poem, lullaby, or story to share with the child in your care. You can start with this free coloring page and recording of The 3 Little Pigs.
Sleepytime Club…bedtime made simple