Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sleep research

I'm reading a book right now called Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep? by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, who also wrote Raising Your Spirited Child, an earlier parenting book favorite of mine. I'm just a little way in, but Kurcinka is making a decent case for the idea that a lot of bad behavior is caused by fatigue, or rather, by the wired-upping that kids need to do to stay alert when they're fatigued. And while I try not to get swept up in each new parenting theory, especially one posited by someone who was selling a different parenting theory not that long ago, I have to say that to some extent, this seems applicable to my son's behavior. Not the sole reason for it, certainly, but a factor. Even he sees it: The kid saw the book on my desk, pointed to the subtitle, and said, "That's like me, mom!" So I have to give the notion some credence. I haven't gotten to the part in the book yet where Kurcinka gives instructions on how to re-make your family's sleep patterns, but I've taken some preliminary steps and will see over the next couple of weeks if they make a difference. Like making my son go to bed at 9 p.m. when his older sister, the sleepyhead, goes down; he may still lay in bed for an hour or more talking to himself, but when sleep does come it should be earlier. I'm also making an effort to get myself into bed at 11 p.m. every night, rather than falling asleep in my clothes at 10:30, with the lights on because I'm planning to still do more work, and waking up at 2:30 a.m. to finally "go to bed" and then lay awake for a while. I don't know how much sleep deprivation contributes to my son's bad behavior, but I know it contributes to mine.

1 comment:

Amy Carlson said...

Since the kids were little we have been strict about their sleep schedules. All of our kids get 10 hours of sleep a night (they are 7,8, & 10 yrs old now.) Of all the interventions we have used with our kids this has been the most successful. I know this because occasionally there is an exception where maybe someone only gets 6 or 8 hours sleep. It is amazing how much more difficult it is for our 2 special needs kids to function on those days. We get a lot of snide comments about our sleep rituals from friends and family but it is easy to blow off because we know that it works.