Sleep Awareness Week: how much sleep is enough for your family

Sleep Awareness Week: how much sleep is enough for your family
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As we lost an hour of sleep over the weekend with the time change, doctors say this is a good time to check in on our sleep habits. It is Sleep Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is “Begin with Sleep.” The National Sleep Foundation hopes it highlights the importance of good sleep health for individuals to best achieve personal, family, and professional goals.

Health experts say Daylight Saving Time means regrouping and rethinking the way we look at sleep, as most of us aren’t getting enough every night. We all know the consequences of too little sleep, like memory problems, feeling depressed or the weakening of the immune system.

One of the common things most of us are guilty of is thinking we can catch up on lost sleep over the weekend. It turns out that’s not the case, according to SSM Health pediatrician Dr. Sara Kreckman.

“While you may feel a little bit more temporarily alert, you really can’t catch up on lost sleep,” Dr. Kreckman explained. “Research has even suggested that you would need four nights of adequate sleep to catch up for even one hour missed sleep which makes the concept of catching up on sleep kind of impossible.”

In general, Dr. Kreckman says newborns need 14 to 17 hours per day, older babies generally sleep 12 to 15 hours per day, toddlers range from 10 to 14 hours per day, school-age kids need 9 to 11 hours, and teens need at least 8 but up to 10 hours of sleep, while adults generally need at least 7 or 8 hours.

Sleep specialists say consistency is key. We have to get in the habit of creating night time rituals to help our bodies slowly wind down from the day and prepare for a night of quality sleep. We also need to turn the screens off. The light and noise from TVs, smart phones and other devices can keep our brains revved up and inhibit restful sleep. Research also shows most people get better sleep when their bedroom temperature is between 65 and 72 degrees.

If you’re having a baby anytime soon, a new study shows parents won’t get a good night’s sleep for six years. Yes, you read that correctly.

“The good news is outside of the first three to six months most of that sleep disruption is fairly mild and not associated with any adverse long-term effects,” explained Dr. Kreckman. “I always tell people it will get better. I promise this is only temporary.”

Dr. Kreckman’s best advice is power through it. That means sleeping when your child is sleeping; even though you feel that you should using that time do get something else done.

Sleep specialists say there are some easy signs to tell if your child is getting enough sleep. If your child has an easy time waking up in the morning, they don’t fall asleep in school and they are mentally and physically alert, they’re most likely doing just fine. But, if it’s a chore to get your kid out of bed, they experience any daytime fatigue, lack of concentration, attention problems and restlessness, more sleep is needed.

“We also like a consistent bedtime routine that lasts maybe 20 or 30 minutes so that your child knows that bedtime is coming, and the hour leading up to bedtime should be calm and relaxing,” Dr. Kreckman added.

She says any sort of screen time is not recommended, especially in the hour leading up to bedtime. A light snack that’s low in sugar before bed is okay. You should always avoid caffeine four to six hours before going to bed, and regular exercise is also a positive way to make for a better routine for the body.

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