Healthy Sleep for Families

Getting enough rest is paramount to a happy, healthy and functioning family, especially as we enter the cold winter months of 2020. We love this take on healthy family sleep from the University of Washington. Check out their article, excerpt here:

Do you get enough sleep? How do you feel when you haven’t had enough? How does it affect your mood and your concentration?

Your kids experience the same feelings of exhaustion as you do, when they don’t get the hours of sleep they need. With a lack of proper sleep, your child may be grumpier, unfocused, exhibit lower energy levels (drowsiness) and feel more stressed. Sleep is critical for overall health, thinking, concentration and memory. Our kids simply won’t test as well in school or be able to focus in class or during their after-school activities, if they don’t get enough.

Sleep is a valuable part of everyday health. Your body and your brain need sleep in order to develop and function properly. Sleeping is busy time for your brain as it sorts and stores information you’ve learned during the day and helps you solves problems.

Recommended amounts of sleep

Studies show that school-aged children, especially teens, get less than the recommended amounts of sleep. What are the recommended amounts of sleep for you and your children? Is everyone in your home hitting those target hours? If not, it’s never too late to slide bedtime back a little earlier in order to make sleep health a priority in your home.

Hold a family discussion, especially if you have teens. Include them and talk with them about why sleep is important and teach them how it affects both their brain and body. How do they feel when they haven’t had enough? Create a chart with pros and cons. Co-create a new bedtime routine and schedule with your kids, so they feel included and empowered.

AgeRecommended amount of sleepNewborns16-18 hours a dayPreschool-aged children11-12 hours a daySchool-aged childrenAt least 10 hours a dayTeens9-10 hours a dayAdults (including the elderly)7-8 hours a day

Source: NIH

Families are busy. Many parents are working longer hours and our schedules are packed with school and after-school activities. Do family mornings begin earlier? Are bed times later? While going to bed a little later may not seem like a big deal at that moment, it is. Each hour of lost sleep adds up, night after night and you never get them back. This is called “sleep debt.”

Sleep debt is critical because research shows that a lack of sleep over time contributes to health problems such as obesity, depression, diabetes, stroke, substance abuse, hypertension and heart disease. Sleep debt also causes the more familiar difficulties in concentration, memory, control of emotion, and reduced reaction time.

As parents, it is our responsibility to protect our children’s sleep. Make sleep a priority by infusing new family sleep rules and breaking “tired” old habits for you and your kids. Be the primary example for them. This will help to create a happier and more peaceful home environment.

Establish a regular bedtime for all family members – and stick to it seven days a week. Ban the use of all screens and electronics an hour before bed, studies have proven the light from the screens disrupts our sleep patterns. Get an app like Parental TimeLock that will automatically lock your device (or your child’s) at a designated time or when their allotted screen time is up.

Tips to getting more sleep

  • Avoid phones, TVs, tablets, computers for an hour before bedtime.
  • Have a regular, relaxing bedtime routine and create a calm atmosphere (ex. bathing, reading, playing calm music, turning the lights down)
  • Get enough exercise – in the morning or late afternoon.
  • Avoid heavy, spicy or sugary foods 4-6 hours before bedtime.
  • Make the bedroom a quiet, dark and relaxing environment.
  • Model good sleep hygiene for your children.