I’ve always been a huge fan of sleep. Unlike the couple Hoagy Carmichael wrote about, I’m more likely to plead exhaustion and say good-night than to stay up til dawn gazing into my lover’s eyes. There’s nothing romantic about being tired and cranky, if you ask me.
As a parent, of course, I’ve experienced sleep deprivation. It is the great shared experience of mothers everywhere; we’ve all been there, done that, and would like to sleep it off somewhere.
Last week, I read an article about the effect of sleep deprivation on a genetic level. 700 genes were found to have disrupted activity when the study’s participants got less than six hours of sleep each night.
I’m not certain what that means, but no wonder new moms are exhausted. Not only did you just create all those brain and kidney and skin cells, but now your own genes cannot even relax with a job well done.
Then there was an article about sleep deprivation leading to binge eating.
I don’t binge eat. It’s probably because I sleep eight hours a night and have happy genes.
Sleep deprivation is a serious problem, even for those without babies in the house. Thirty seven percent of drivers admit they have fallen asleep while driving in the past year.
It’s also a problem for many children today. I honestly think a lot of the behavior problems, specifically the tantrums and meltdowns and lack of ability to cope, and, yes, the inability to sleep soundly, I see in children are due to them being chronically tired.
They are not little adults.
If sleep deprivation messes with 700 genes, what must that do to a child with a rapidly growing body?
How much sleep do children need? According to the National Sleep Foundation:
- Newborns need 10.5 to 18 hours per day for their first two months. It doesn’t matter when.
- Babies from three to twelve months need 9 to 12 hours each night, and two naps of 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Toddlers from one to three years old need between 12 and 14 hours of sleep per day.
- Preschoolers aged three to five need only slightly less, 11 – 13 hours each day.
- School aged children aged five to twelve need 10-11 hours of sleep each day.
- Teens need at least 9 hours of sleep per day.
Do you feel like you get enough sleep? What about your children – do they?