My mom loved to tell this story about school kids on a field trip. She ran our church’s tutoring program for inner-city kids, providing fun and enrichment where their schools could not. She once brought the crew to a planetarium, thinking the star show would excite them about science and the universe. When the lights came up after the show however, every single one of the kids was fast asleep. She laughed at herself about her failure that day, but now it makes me think about sleep as a growing health problem for kids.
School is starting soon, and it is time to get those kids back to sleep at a decent time. Kids are getting less sleep than they need these days. There are too many stimulating things to keep them up- computers, TVs with cable, i phones, video games,and too much soda. Not getting enough sleep leads to many health problems.
Kids that don’t get enough sleep are less happy, and have fewer friends. Who can be happy when they spend their day half in the bag with fatigue? And who can make friends when they are groggy and grumpy? There is also recent evidence that asthma and anxiety attacks are more frequent in tired kids. Most importantly, kids need to be awake in school to learn. Every one should know that the most certain way to life-long happiness and success is a good education.
So how to get those kids to bed and asleep? First, begin to walk those bedtimes back earlier and earlier. If they are now getting to sleep at midnight, have lights out starting at 11pm for a few days, then 10 pm for a few more, and finally to 8 or 9 pm. Don’t allow any screens in their bedrooms- this is how kids stay stimulated and awake without you necessarily knowing. This means having no TVs, no computers, no video games, and no phones in their bedroom. Finally, do not let them have soda at dinnertime or after (heck, they shouldn’t have soda anytime, except for very special occasions).
Its back to school and thus back to bed time. Your kids deserve to be awake in school, to do well, be well, and be happy. And maybe they’ll stay awake to enjoy the planetarium too!