We all know the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. A full night of restful sleep is energizing, and not enough sleep can make any of us feel terrible. As parents, we need a good night of restful sleep to keep up with our day-to-day responsibilities and, while our kids may seem like a bundle of energy, a good night’s sleep is even more important for them.
It’s no surprise that it is more difficult to learn new information following a lack of sleep. But what you may not know is that it is equally as important to get a good night’s sleep after learning something new, to help retain the information that has been learned. Sleep plays a role in the consolidation of memory, or the process by which a memory becomes stable, and is essential for learning new information.
Lack of sleep can also affect mood, motivation, judgment, and our perceptions, which all play a critical role in the learning process. Chronic sleep deprivation can also lead to health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality. Lack of sleep can also be the source of many preventable accidents on the road, in the office and at home.
Studies have shown that most people do not get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following guidelines for a good night’s sleep:
Preschoolers, 3-5 years - 10-13 hours
School aged children, 6-13 years - 9-11 hours
Teens, 14-17 years - 8-10 hours
Adults, 18-64 years - 7-9 hours
Many day-to-day activities can impact our sleep. Blue light from our computers, tablets and phones right before bedtime can result in a restless night. The inability to clear our minds before bedtime, feeling hungry or thirsty, or even being in a room that is too warm or too cool can disrupt sleep.
Establishing bedtime rituals for you and your kids, such as putting electronic devices away a few hours before bedtime, turning off the television, reading for relaxation, a warm bath, and even nighttime meditation or deep breathing can help you and your kids wind down after a busy day. Prepare yourself for the next busy day ahead, and get your kids ready to take on their school lessons in the best possible way – with a great night’s rest.