Tuesday, September 7, 2010

To bed, to bed, to bed I said. . .

I heard this story on NPR today. It's about the link between sleep and childhood obesity. How kids aren't getting enough sleep and it's causing them to become overweight—something I'd heard before and been talking about for a couple years. I also just finished reading NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children which has a chapter that focuses this link and studies to link ADD to lack of sleep (or at least similar symptoms).

It makes me feel pretty darned good. All too often people look at us funny when leave places at 6:30 to get home in time for bed, or when we don't go out with our friends because they want to start their festivities at 6:00 or later and we say "that's too late." But for our son to get more than 10 hours of sleep and stick with our schedule he has to be in bed by 7ish because he lays in bed and talks to himself until at least 8:00—sometimes later.

On weeknights, by the time we all get home and prepare and eat dinner it's really close to bedtime. Not to mention right now—while I'm teaching a night class—there is no chance of him being awake when I arrive home two nights a week. That doesn't leave much time during the week for playing. . . and I hate that, but it's not worth the health issues. His brain forming properly is more important than father/son bonding play, and we more than make up for it in quality.

NurtureShock also links lack of sleep to teenage moodiness. However, it also finds that teenagers getting to bed earlier doesn't work because the brain chemistry of the average teenager won't allow them to go to sleep early. The solution for teenagers is to sleep later—the CDC even recommends that high schools not start until 8 a.m. (something schools won't do, generally because of interference with after school sports and part-time jobs). I suppose we have 10 years to figure out a solution on that one.

But that's beside the point. . . the point is I feel a little smug at the moment because I make my kid go to bed early and will continue to do so for several years.

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