Kids learn from watching what their parents do. This isn’t rocket science, but researchers have found that the adage applies to sleeping, too. According to a new study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the longer a parent sleeps, the longer their children will, too. Also, children slept longer when parents were more confident about their ability to help children fall asleep.
Researchers think that, when parents learn about how their sleep schedule affects their kids, they can get kids to sleep longer.
“Our results also may suggest that individual parent behaviors do not reflect a ‘family lifestyle,’ but rather that parental sleep is directly linked to child sleep irrespective of others behaviors,” explains Corinna Rea, M.D, an instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and attending physician at Boston Children’s Hospital. In addition, this increase in sleep duration had no direct correlation between screen time, daily activity or screen time limits.
It makes sense. We used to like sleeping in. I can remember when my older daughter was really little she would wake up at the crack of dawn calling for us. We would tell her no, it wasn’t time to wake up. It was still nighttime. She would eventually go back to sleep, waking up at a respectable 8:30 a.m. Today, my little one will always go to sleep early if I go to sleep early. She takes longer to fall asleep if we’re all up — even if we’re not making any noise. I find that she stays up later when I start getting upset that she’s not falling asleep.
Today, both of my kids get the requisite nine to 12 hours per 24 hours that doctors say “promotes optimal health.” Sure, in the summer or over a holiday break that means they are up later and wake up later, too, but I guess I can’t complain as long as they are asleep before I am!