Thursday, October 23, 2008
I have noticed that American families often let their kids stay up late. Very late! Up towards 10 PM is not unusual. When I ask why I often get the response that they just can't get them to bed early, or that they want to spend time with their kids.
My daughter always goes to bed between 7:30 PM and 8 PM, unless we have special company or something out of the ordinary is going on. She usually is asleep by 8:15 PM. This gives her 11.5 hours of sleep on average, more on the weekends. The guidelines for 3-10 year olds are 10-12 hours of sleep. That is a lot more than an adult's needed 7-9 hours. I just don't think that is possible if the kids stay up late, and then have to get up early to go to daycare/preschool/school whatever.
I also heard parents say they can't get their kids to bed early because they are so hyperactive. Well, one of the side effects of regular sleep deprivation is actually just that, hyperactivity, along with frequent irritability, emotionally overreacting, having difficulty concentrating, forgetting easily, waking often during the night.
We have always had somewhat of a routine; brush her teeth and wash up, put on pajamas, read a book. Then I turn off all the lights and we lay in the dark and talk about her day for a few minutes. Then she usually tells me she doesn't want to sleep, and I say that is fine, just rest. I usually sing a few Swedish children's songs, and then she is out.
I think a routine will work as an indicator for the kids, they know what to expect, and after a while they just start to relax throughout the different steps.
I am the kind of parent who will stay with my daughter until she is asleep, but that is because I remember when I was 4-5 and had to go to bed all by myself, and how terrified I was off the dark. I don't mind. She will soon enough grown out of that need for having me there at bedtime. I actually enjoy our time together.
What are your observations regarding the bedtime routines in the country you live in?