A majority of the U.S. population doesn’t get enough sleep, and those who experience the effects of this the most are families. Stories of sleep deprivation are not uncommon to hear about when you think of all the exhausted parents with newborns, or the tired teens juggling school, after school activities, and the hours of homework each night. Unfortunately, the fast paced, caffeine-dependent nature which American families have grown accustomed to can have very harmful effects. Sleep is a biological need that keeps the body functioning properly. There are plenty of plans centered around the family to help ensure everyone is getting proper nutrition and exercise to stay healthy. Including healthy sleep as a part of those regimens is important.
In this month’s sleep education video, Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, Chief Medical Officer at FusionHealth explains the importance of sleep consistency in families and highlights ways to create a sleep-friendly, family environment. As Dr. Durmer states, “When you have one member of the family sleeping poorly, it’s likely that no one else is sleeping well either.”
Without enough sleep, families suffer. When children do not get enough sleep, their bodies have difficulties developing properly. Poor sleep can lead to children developing behavioral issues and ADHD-like symptoms, as well as physical problems such as an elevated body mass. For children and teens in school, lack of sleep can contribute to poor performance in class. Sleep deprived children often experience difficulties staying focused; have a harder time contributing; and struggle to process and synthesize what is being taught. Regardless of age, sleep is crucial to healthy development and overall wellbeing.
Various stages in life require differing amounts of sleep. Infants and toddlers need the most at 12-16 hours a day. Sleep is crucial to proper development which explains the need for an increased amount in early stages of life. As children reach the ages 3-12, they require a little less sleep, approximately 10-12 hours a night for healthy development. When children transition into teenagers, they require around 8-9 hours of sleep. For adults, the requirement becomes 7-9 hours of sleep a night in order for the body to function properly.
Here are three helpful suggestions for ensuring your family gets the restorative sleep it needs:
- Ensure Children are Getting the Sleep They Need: Children and teens require the most amount of sleep, and it’s important to establish set times to go to sleep and to wake up. Everyone in the family should strive to be in bed, ready to sleep at certain designated times and wake up at the same time every day. By creating specific windows, you increase the opportunity for all family members to get enough sleep.
- Limit Activity Close to Bedtime: Families are very fast-paced because they’re managing multiple schedules and activities. High levels of activity close to a designated bedtime interfere with the brain’s ability to prepare for rest and recovery. This is why it can be challenging to fall asleep immediately after quitting tasks which require heavy brain activity, so it’s important to find options that wind down the brain and prepare the body for bedtime.
- Remove Smartphones and Tablets from the Bedroom: Children are showing up to school tired then underperform due to sleep deprivation, and the culprit is often due to smartphone or tablet usage after “lights off”. The same can also be said for parents who use these devices well into the night for work or entertainment. By removing phones or tablets from the bedroom, the body can naturally adjust to falling asleep without interferences.
If you believe that you or a member of your family may be suffering from a sleep disorder, help is available by contacting the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at email@example.com or 1-877-615-7257, option 1.