Why Sleep Is Non-negotiable In My House

Why Sleep Is Non-negotiable In My House
By Jen Shragge

Ahhhh sleep. Every parent feels like they just don’t get enough of it. Every kid feels like they don’t need any more of it. And yet, study after study shows that the affects of too little sleep can be catastrophic.  In my house, bedtimes are non-negotiable. No, I can’t, and I won’t keep my kids stay out just a little bit later than usual. No, my kids can’t go to a sleep-over party. What about a special occasion you ask? Mostly still no.

Some people look at me like I have a unicorn horn on my forehead when I tell them that my two year old goes to bed between 6:30 and 7:00 pm. Sometimes it is even earlier if her nap (and yes she most often will sleep between 1.5 and 2 hours per day) is short. She usually wakes around 7:00 or 7:30 a.m. Yes. That’s right. She sleeps between 12-13 hours per night and has a pretty sizable nap each day. Sleep begets sleep. I never really believed it until my son was a tired, cranky mess and we tried the earlier bedtime and low and behold, everything got better.

Now my almost 8-year-old has a tiny bit more leeway in his sleep routine, however, if there is no sports activity in the evening, his bedtime is 7:30 pm. He usually does have something in the evening that makes that more difficult, but we are very fortunate that we can sleep a little later in the morning due to a later school start time (8:45 a.m) and the ability for one of us to drive him over in less than 5 minutes if we are really running behind. That is usually not the case though for most families with two parents working outside the home or children who must take the school bus.

So what is the correct amount of sleep for children you ask? This is a great resource and a pretty good rule of thumb to follow:

Why Sleep Is Non-negotiable In My House

Source: National Sleep Foundation

Clearly, there are ranges in there to account for the differences in each child, but I always err on the top end of the spectrum as my children do far better when they are well rested. I would even go as far as to say most children do far better when they are well rested. Just like adults!

Have your kids been getting the suggested amount of sleep? Do you find that their behavior or lack thereof is directly associated with the amount of sleep they get (or don’t get as the case may be)?

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Jen Shragge is a yoga instructor and all around eco-diva. She now lives back in her hometown of Toronto after ten years in the Vancouver area. Jen’s days are filled by her seven year old son and husband plus her toddler who was crazy enough to make her arrival on Christmas Day. In her spare time, (do moms really have spare time!?) Jen is a stylist for Peekaboo Beans, a play-focused quality children's clothing line.

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6 responses to “Why Sleep Is Non-negotiable In My House”

  1. Whatever happens do not let my daughter see this! Her oldest, a boy hasn’t slept through the night more than a couple of times since he was born and he’ll be 5 this Sept. She’s been to innumerable sleep clinics with him and nothing seems to help. She dreams of sleeping for 8 hrs straight herself.

  2. This is an awesome chart. Although, I slept a lot in school as a teenager. lol

  3. I agree with you on a non-negotiable sleep hour. If you have ever been in the presence of a sleep-deprived toddler, you will realize how important lots of sleep is for them.
    As you mentioned, sleep-deprived adults are no fun to be around either-speaking about myself of course. Thank you for a sensible and informative sleep guide.

  4. Thank you for posting this! Every child is different and their brains and bodies need sleep in different amounts and ways… As a toddler, I stopped napping at 2-3 years of age (naturally – too much for me to explore and discover to waste time on sleep according to my grandmother and mother), but I went to bed at 7pm and woke at 6am in the morning like clockwork. I only needed 8 hours of sleep between 7-12 years of age, but as soon as I entered my early teens I suddenly was sleeping 8-12 hours daily. My late teens and adulthood, it was between 5-6 hours.

    My boys were different, but I adopted them later in their toddler years. They also did not nap, but they both needed anywhere between 10-12 hours of sleep from ages 3-6, then 8-10 hours from ages 7-14. One is entering his late teens right now and is suddenly needing 10-12 hours… Sleep has never been negotiable in our home, you sleep as much as you need and accommodations are made to facilitate that; its an important part of health and growth and I have made sure the boys understand that and the science behind it. Sleep is fascinating.

  5. I still get grief over making sure my children sleep and they are both teens!! My in-laws hated it that I’d put them for naps when they were toddlers… they’d bitch and complain and wake them up early so we couldn’t trust them to put them down at all. BUT if they had just left them alone they’d discover they were nicer children when they woke and nicer over all after supper instead of cranky. misbehaving children.

    It’s nice to see someone else advocate proper sleep habits.


  6. When my son was only a couple weeks old he started sleeping 8 hours before needing to be fed and then straight back to sleep. As an adult he still needs a lot of sleep. My daughter as a baby never slept (it seemed) and now as a teenager she needs to sleep to be livable (oh the moods when she is tired!) but she is also stubborn and does her best to convince me and her body that she only needs 7 hours. So wrong, lol.

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