Debunking the Top 5 Childhood Sleep Myths. Guest Post | Whitney Roban Ph.D.
Myth # 1
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, all children need 11-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. From 7-12 years of age, all children need 10-11 hours of night sleep. From 13-19 years of age, all children need 9-10 hours of night sleep. An early bedtime is key in raising a great sleeper.
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 us physically, cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally. Sleep deprivation is at epidemic levels and wreaks havoc on almost 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 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 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!
PEDIATRIC SLEEP SPECIALIST | PARENT & CORPORATE WELLNESS EDUCATOR
Founder of SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ and SLEEP WELL/WORK WELL, Dr. Whitney Roban considers sleep a necessity, not a luxury. She lives and works by one philosophy: parenting is one of the hardest jobs, made even more difficult when a family doesn’t sleep. Her mission is to give the gift of sleep to families through her information dissemination and emotional support based sleep training system, as well as her parent and corporate wellness education workshops.
With a Ph.D. in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University, Whitney began her career creating psycho-educational books and games for Childswork/Childsplay. She then took her expertise to the Girl Scout Research Institute where she authored national research studies in the youth market and reported the results in various media outlets such as television and radio. After taking time off from her professional life to be a mom, during which time she sleep trained her own children, Whitney formed SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ and SLEEP WELL/WORK WELL and has helped hundreds of children and their parents sleep soundly every night.
A native of New York, Whitney formed SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ in 2005 while living in Los Angeles. She currently lives in New York with her two children, ages 10 1/2 and 13. Dr. Roban is now devoting her time away from her two very well rested sons to help other parents and caregivers struggling with childhood sleep problems.