firehouse pizza banner

Patty Craig: A Slice of Time

As students return to school, we’ll see families with children adjusting their schedules and routines. In summer months, most parents allow children to have a later bedtime. After all, it’s hard to catch fireflies before dark. But with the opening of the school year, children are likely to see earlier bedtimes.

I was raised in a structured household and then created one for my own children. Since my children grew up with two working parents, some of their routines were of necessity. We had fairly consistent meal times and bed times – not that the times were rigid, but they were predictable. But, during summer months, they had later bedtimes.

This year, my grandchildren have enjoyed their summer break. I’m not sure they’re ready to return to school, but of course they will. And, their routines will have to change: since school schedules normally begin before 8 a.m., they will have to go to bed earlier. I’m predicting that many children will find this adjustment to their internal clocks exhausting.

The website WebMD ( provides some general guidelines regarding how much sleep children need:
•    Children 3 to 6 years of age may need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per day. At 3, most children are still napping; but by age 5, many no longer need a nap.
•    Children 7 to 12 years of age may need 10 to 11 hours of sleep per day. Within this age group, total sleep varies from 9 to 12 hours, and the average sleep time is about 9 hours.
•    Teenagers (up to 18 years of age) need 8 to 9 hours of sleep per day. Although teenagers may actually need more sleep than in previous years, social pressures generally prevent getting the proper amount or the quality of sleep needed.

Interestingly, the amount of sleep a person needs increases if he or she has missed sleep in previous days. Eventually, the body will demand that this sleep debt be repaid. While we may get used to a sleep-depriving schedule, our judgment, reaction time, and other functions are still impaired. Too little sleep may also cause a person to have memory problems, depression, a weakened immune system, and an increased perception of pain ( Experts agree that if you feel drowsy during the day, you haven't had enough sleep. As most know, adults generally need seven to eight hours of sleep each night, although individual needs may vary between five and ten hours of sleep. And, our bodies don't seem to adapt to getting less sleep than needed. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.”

I’ve been a little sleep-deprived lately. So, as the school year begins and the grandchildren return, I might just catch up on my sleep.



Patty Good article usual.

Bookmark and Share