Monday, June 14, 2010

More evidence of the benefits of sleep

One of the things I found hardest to adjust to in Spain was the different sleep schedule, especially the late and erratic hours kept by children. I can see the benefits – more family time, easier to go out, etc. But the kids did seem cranky. Mark and I joked about whether or not we should tell them that sleeping more would help their children’s brain development. We figured they probably wouldn’t appreciate it.

There has been a lot of evidence coming out lately on the benefits of sleep, and here is one more. Most notably, having a rule about bedtime was associated with 6-7% higher math and language skills among preschoolers. In Spain, we saw kids negotiate with their parents about bedtime. We asked some friends if their child did that regularly and they said it happened every night and could last an hour. Neither Mark nor I wanted to spend an hour of our days in painful fighting about bedtime.

So I guess we’ll be sticking with our 8-8:30 p.m. bedtime for our toddler, even if he does occasionally babble in his crib until 10. And no negotiations, except in exceptional circumstances. So far, he’s cool with the bedtime ritual. Since he enjoys each part of it, it’s generally not difficult to go from one step to the next. But he has begun to negotiate in other areas. Should he try applying that to bedtime, we will have to remember what is good for him and stick to our schedule. Looking back, I would have been much better off with more sleep from about ages 13 to23.

I’m trying to decide on the hours we’ll take him to preschool in the fall. Part of me wanted to make it 8 a.m., to maximum the time he has there in the morning. But he doesn’t usually get up until 8 and I see no reason at this point in his life to wake him before his body is ready. I’ll see what time he’s waking up in August and then set a start-time that allows us to get him up and ready with minimal rush and to get to work at a reasonable time (perhaps 8:30 or 9).

It's so nice when something that is good for the child is also good for the parent (quiet time - yay!).

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