Protecting Their Sleep

January 22, 2013, Parenting Success Network

Today’s blog post is submitted by our featured guest contributor, Leonne Bannister.  Enjoy the post and look forward to future posts from Leonne.

Having too much fun at a friend’s party a few weeks ago, I kept the kids up too late. And while we were all having fun at the party and no one showed signs of tiredness at the time, we all paid the next day. The late night for the kids totally threw our next day off. There was such an extreme change from our kid’s typical behavior, that my husband and I vowed never to keep them out that late again.

Later that week, I participated in a webinar hosted by best-selling author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Ed.D and the Minnesota Department of Education. It was an online presentation titled “Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep?” I realized, after that webinar, that I hadn’t been a good steward of my child’s sleep needs. The term “protect their sleep” came up several times in the webinar and it was something that really stuck with me. Kurcinka’s presentation was full of convincing information as to why it’s important to protect children’s sleep and I’d like to share some of it with you.

Kurcinka spoke about the emotional signs of a tired child. A child who loses it over little things, gets easily frustrated and is generally irritable and cranky is likely sleep deprived. More serious emotional and physical signs of a sleep-deprived child, according to Kurcinka, are complaints of stomach and headaches and a general sense of anxiety. She also mentioned that a child’s ability to focus and pay attention at school is greatly affected by how much sleep a student receives. She even referenced a study that showed 41 minutes of sleep deprivation effected math performance of students.

Kurcinka offered some advice for parents who are committed to “protecting their child’s sleep”.

  • be aware of your child’s tiredness cues
  • have a consistent morning routine
  • differentiate between evening and morning activities

Kurcinka also gave tips to improve your child’s sleep.

  • place a thermos of cold water near their bed at  night
  • have your child eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking

As a parent, I have benefited from Kurcinka’s strategies. It seemed as though my kids never quite managed transitions for bedtime well. Moving the kid’s bathtime and playtime to the afternoon has drastically improved our sleep routine. There are two less transitions during the evening which make for happier kids and parents. I hope some of the information I’ve shared with you today helps your family as well.

For additional information on Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, visit her website, or check out her book, Sleepless in America.

To view Leonne’s full article which includes additional details about helpful ways to protect your child’s sleep click here.

 Leonne is a wife and a mother of 2.  She has been a member of the LBCC Cooperative Preschool at the Benton Center for 3 years. She is a part time Parenting Education Instructor with LBCC and a CASA Advocate. She is also on the Board of Directors of CASA-Voices for Children. Leonne enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering in the community. In her “free” time she enjoys exercising and reading.