Tommy sprawls on the couch, his eyes glued to the TV screen and the latest Spiderman movie. Shelly is curled up in the easy chair, her only movement her fingers on the controls of her Game Boy.
It's a perfect summer day filled with golden sunshine and light breezes. Tommy should be outside playing baseball. On the sidewalk across the street, Shelly's friends are engaged in a game of hopscotch. But hey Both the kids are quiet and content, giving you the peace to get your housework done, so why rock the boat?
Sounds like a good plan. However, you may pay for an afternoon of peace with a night of sleeplessness for the children and, probably, for you. A new study by New Zealand researchers suggests that every hour of inactivity during the day adds three minutes to the time it take for a child to fall asleep. Lots of daytime activity leads to an earlier sleep time and a longer sleep.
Isn't this true of adults as well? If you spend the day lying in bed or slouched in a chair reading or, as Tommy is doing, watching TV, you may well feel sluggish and tired, but when you go to bed, sleep eludes you.
This is why exercise during the day is so important, not just for children, but for everyone. Exercise should be done earlier in the day, not close to bedtime. Exercise in the evening can act as a stimulant. The hour or so before you hope to fall asleep should be spent in more peaceful pursuits. Now is the time to read or watch TV, and make sure the kids aren't watching an action movie with fights and car chases or playing stimulating games.
We all need adequate sleep, children included. Lack of sleep can lead to many problems - mental, such as poor academic work, memory problems and even mood swings including anger and depression. And physical. Lack of sleep weakens the immune system, allowing an invasion by everything from a cold to diabetes and other health problems.
Eliminate those things in your life that interfere with your sleep, and the sleep of your children. They may not be happy with your decisions, but they'll be much healthier for it.