I am not sure about you, but waking up and finding it still dark outside is quite odd, given it is still summer. Every morning my diurnal clock tells me it is not yet morning, but my real clock tells me it is, so I drag myself out of bed. Conversely the evenings are still quite long, with sunset being around 8pm.
Now, add high night time temperatures into the mix and right now, getting enough sleep is a little bit of a struggle for many of us, including children.
The amount of sleep children need is well documented. Here is what the New Zealand Ministry of Health states:
How much sleep your child needs in 24 hours
The table below shows the recommended total hours of sleep per day for children and young people. Some children naturally sleep slightly less or more than these recommended hours.
|School age (5–13 years)
|Teenagers (14–17 years)
|Young adults (18–25 years)
The Ministry of Health website also states:
Why sleep is important
Sleep is important for restoring energy and helping children grow and develop.
More and more evidence suggests that not enough or poor quality sleep can have a negative effect on a child’s behaviour, learning, health, wellbeing and weight.
For those of you who like evidence, here is an excerpt from:
Behavioral Sleep Problems and their Potential Impact on Developing Executive Function in Children
Kathryn Turnbull, MSc,1 Graham J. Reid, PhD,1,2,3,4 and J. Bruce Morton, PhD1
Correlational studies have found a relationship between parent-reported sleep problems and child psychosocial problems, including attention problems, hyperactivity, oppositional and aggressive behavior, mood problems, and anxiety.1,11,20–28 Poor school functioning and lower cognitive performance have also been associated with sleep problems in children, suggesting that sleep disruptions can impair cognitive processes.29–31 Experimental studies that have assigned school-age children to restricted versus extended sleep schedules have confirmed that even limited sleep deficits (e.g., 1 h/day for 3 days) cause measurable deficits in cognitive functioning measures32 and child behavior.33 Thus, research strongly suggests that healthy sleep plays an important role in children’s daytime functioning.
The short version of all the above is that there is ample research linking behaviour and attention problems in children to poor sleep quantity and quality. Inadequate sleep contributes to attention problems, hyperactivity, bullying and aggressive behaviour mood swings, and anxiety. If any of these ring true with you, perhaps your first intervention might be to ensure your child is getting quality sleep.
However, the good news is that this is all reversible once children are consistently getting enough sleep.
A Lesson about Security in the Home
One of our lovely parents had an awful experience a week ago and she has asked me to remind parents about home security. She had left a very small high up window open in her lounge, and the rest of the house was secure. They live on a corner under a street light. She had a home intrusion with the burglar surprised when she woke from sleep and saw him in her bedroom. She yelled and he escaped. The police caught four of them after she was able to ‘track my iPhone’ from another phone that wasn’t taken. She wanted to let the wider neighbourhood know that this is happening in the area, and to be vigilant at locking doors, windows and pulling curtains at night. It was a frightening experience.