Dr. Whitney Roban, is a Family, Educational, and Corporate Sleep Specialist, as well as the founder of Solve Our Sleep. Her mission is to provide the sleep education and support families, students, teachers, and employees need to not only survive, but to thrive. This time, she can expand about childhood sleep myths.
Here are the top 5 childhood sleep myths:
Myth: The more sleep a child gets during the day, the harder it will be for that child to fall asleep at night.
Truth: The more sleep a body gets, the more sleep it will crave. Considering day and night sleep significantly affect each other, when children nap well during the day, they will actually have an easier time falling asleep at night. When children do not nap well during the day, they go into bedtime in an overtired state. This makes it physically more difficult for children to fall asleep at night. Most children need to nap until age 4. Some children need to nap until age 5. A few children still need to nap until age 6.
Myth: Fussiness at the end of the day is normal in children over the age of 4 months.
Truth: When children are well rested and not sleep deprived, they do not become overtired at the end of the day. When children are on a developmentally appropriate sleep schedule and get the required amount of sleep they need each day, they never enter into a cycle of sleep deprivation. It is this sleep deprivation which leads to end of the day (or all day) fussiness.
Myth: My child is a “night owl” and doesn’t seem tired at night.
Truth: When children appear “wired” at night, it is because they are already overtired. Those children actually need earlier bedtimes, not later ones. From 4 months of age until 6 years of age, children need 11-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. From 6-12 years of age, children need 10-11 hours of night sleep. From 13-19 years of age, teens need 9 hours of night sleep. Early bedtimes are key in raising great sleepers.
Myth: Sleep is something we all want, but not something we all need.
Truth: Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise in order to stay healthy. Sleep deprivation negatively affects the whole child – physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. Sleep deprivation is at epidemic levels and wreaks havoc on every area of daily living for children and their parents. All human beings have three basic biological needs: to eat, to breathe and to sleep. We may all want to sleep, but we also all need to sleep!
Myth: It is already too late to teach my child how to be a great sleeper.
Truth: It is never too late to teach your children healthy sleep habits. Unfortunately, children look to us to learn good sleep habits, yet many adults themselves never learned healthy sleep habits and have sleep issues themselves. Although it takes a lot of work and a strong commitment (consistent and developmentally appropriate sleep schedules; brief and consistent bedtime routines; strict and consistent sleep rules), instilling great sleep habits in your children is a gift you will give them that will last a lifetime. So whether you have an infant or a teenager, it is worth the time and energy to get your family well rested!