"Bedtimes are for babies" is a popular refrain for tweens. Admitting to their peers that they have a scheduled bedtime causes some tweens to balk, even when their bodies are starved for a needed nine to 10 hours of sleep each night.

Sleep research funded by the National Institutes of Health reveals that getting too little sleep creates a sleep debt, which is like being overdrawn at a bank. Inadequate sleep is shown to lead to impaired concentration and memory, moodiness and diminished physical performance.

Tweens need enough time to complete several sleep cycles, which include five stages of sleep (i.e., stages one through four followed by rapid eye movement [REM] sleep). The initial sleep cycles contain longer periods of deep sleep, occurring at stages three and four, which is linked to the release of the growth hormone in children and young adults. Immune system function, weight management and emotional-psychological health also point to the importance of a consistent bedtime.

Parents can reinforce their tween’s bedtime habits by modelling commitment to their own scheduled bedtime.

From Focus on Your Child’s Tween Ages, April 2008. Published by Focus on the Family. © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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