DIscussion of NurtureShock, Chapter 2 “The Lost Hour”

We're talking about NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman all summer. One chapter every Friday. Jump in whenever you'd like. Last week we talked about Chapter 1 about praise. This week we're talking about Chapter 2 about sleep.

The chapter is called "The Lost Hour," because kids are getting an average of an hour less sleep every night now than we did thirty years ago. The first thing I love about this chapter is that Bronson and Merryman are looking at the facts, NOT blaming parents for this sleep deficit. They describe some of the factors that go into kids getting less sleep, and you can find yourself in some of them, but it's not going to make you feel judged. So you can read the research and feel like you want to act on what you read without feeling bad about yourself.

The upshot: Being shorted on sleep causes a lot of bad stuff to happen, for kids especially. I'm not going to repeat the whole chapter, but these are the main points they hit on:

  • Being shorted sleep consistently during the formative growing years (up to age 21) can cause permanent rewiring of the brain structure.
  • Missing an hour of sleep, for elementary school kids, causes a drop in performance equivalent to one grade level. And every 15 minutes missed for high schoolers corresponds to one letter grade. (15–fifteen minutes!)
  • Missing sleep means that kids don't have the ability to absorb and process what they've learned neurologically. They also don't remember positive things, but remember negative things! So lack of sleep contributes to bad moods (surprise!) and clinical depression.
  • Teenagers are not physically wired to fall asleep as early as kids and adults are, but they need as much or more sleep thank adults do. This means that starting high school early is having disastrous results in terms of depression and academic performance for teens.
  • Lack of sleep means your body can't process the way it's supposed to, so lack of sleep is a big factor in childhood obesity, but it rarely gets mentioned.

Again, for the studies and actual stats and interpretations, read the book and not just my summary.

This all scared the crap out of me. My kids usually get a good amount of sleep, but I could see myself letting things slide–I already let them stay up "just an hour" later on weekends and in the summer. It also scared me for myself, because I'm consistently short on sleep, just because I don't go to bed at a decent hour. Duh.

NOTE: I don't think this chapter should make you reexamine anything if you're the parent of a child who's 2 years old or less. I'm going to assume that you're doing what you can to get the best and most sleep possible for everyone in your family (by figuring out how best to help your individual child sleep and then taking care of your own sleep needs as best you can). Bronson and Merryman are absolutely NOT saying "If your 6-month-old doesn't sleep through the night s/he is ruined forever!" like some other authors I don't need to mention. Babies are babies. You can help them sleep, but you can't sleep for them (ha!) and you can't force them to sleep any more than you can force them to learn to walk or talk. So if you're still in the long, lonely, scratchy tunnel of baby/toddler sleep, store this info away for when you actually have real control over bedtimes and waking times and aren't just trying to get more than 5 uninterrupted hours for survival purposes.

Thoughts? I don't think it's anything new than no sleep = cranky, but seeing it laid out in research was awesome/awful. I'd be reeeeeeally interested in hearing from teachers, specifically, on whether you can see any patterns in your students.

Next week: Chapter 3, "Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race." (Hint: It's not because we're jerks. Just the opposite.)

67 thoughts on “DIscussion of NurtureShock, Chapter 2 “The Lost Hour””

  1. “You can help them sleep, but you can’t sleep for them (ha!) and you can’t force them to sleep any more than you can force them to learn to walk or talk.”You know how much I love you, Moxie, right?
    Just this morning, I was talking to a friend about how we think getting more sleep helps our 3 yos to be, well, less of a PITA. We see the difference. We know it must be true.
    But with my kid, like so many others, I simply cannot MAKE her sleep. I can set the stage and try to help her, but I can’t actually make the sleep happen. My daughter has a 6:30-7:00 bedtime, but there is no telling when she’ll wake up and she simply will. not. nap. The phrase I used to my friend was, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”
    I haven’t gotten the book yet, and I was wary about this chapter. I’m glad to hear that it doesn’t try to make parents feel guilty. Now that I know that, I am more willing to go out and get the book.

  2. I’ve seen a lot of studies linking lack of sleep to poor performance in school and other problems, but school systems seem to be so rooted in the early-start time that it is unlikely to change any time soon. Why is that? What more evidence does there need to be before children are given a chance to get the rest that they need by not having to get up before dawn to catch the school bus?

  3. First – how much sleep should kids be getting, so that I know if mine are getting an hour less than that?Second – I am definitely seeing exhaustion in my students, who are 11 and 12 years old. Honestly, most of what I attribute that to is them having TVs, computers, and video game systems in their rooms. While parents insist that the electronics stay off after bedtime, this is simply not the case in many homes. Kids sometimes talk about playing video games until 2am. Cell phones are also culprits – kids text for hours into the night. When parents come in to school to discuss concerns about slumping grades, one of the first questions I ask is about electronics in the bedroom. I then encourage parents to remove them, preferably forever, but at least until grades improve. I’ve been teaching for ten years and can think of one time that a parent actually followed through with this. Parents need to make the decisions concerning their own children, and electronics in the bedroom is a personal choice. However, I’m not clear on whether parents understand the risks involved with stocking their kids’ rooms with these items.
    There’s more I can say, this is a touchy topic for me as a teacher and parent, but I’ll stop! Thanks for the outlet.

  4. I haven’t read this chapter yet, as I fell vulnerable on this point anyway. Thanks for the reassuring words, Moxie, that the tone is not judgmental, I’ll get to it this weekend……when I’m not dealing with the nearly 2 year old who has started climbing out of his crib. We’ve set up a toddler bed in the 4 -year old’s room. We’re going to do the transition out of the crib and into a shared room at the same time.
    I’m figuring on 4 weeks of transition and crappy sleep. So I’m glad that we’re reading this chapter now.

  5. I taught Pre-K for 7 years, and I noticed it more after weekends and school breaks…students would be well rested for the most part on Monday, then would go downhill from there. I don’t typically see it with students who don’t have behavior problems, but with students who do, it is very obvious even at 4-5 years old.

  6. Schools are tied to early start times because working parents demand it. Plus, in high school, you need an early start so that athletes can leave for games AFTER school not during instructional time. Trust me, these are no minor concerns.I agree that it’s a bad rap for kids. Can’t wait to see how all these online high schools are going to shape up. If done right, it could solve a lot of issues – teenagers can sleep in, learn at their own pace (I know, I know, self-motivation), excursions and social outings to interact with teachers and other students.
    Great summary – Thanks Moxie

  7. I was also amazed and scared by the results of the studies done about just a little less sleep and its impact.My girl is 4, and her sleep habits are quite good (knocking frantically on wood). However, she is really set in the amount of sleep she gets. If she sleeps in, guaranteed she’ll be up that much later the next evening. I put her to bed only 15 minutes earlier if she is short on sleep for whatever reason, but no more, because the problem will just extend to the next day. But I’m gratified to know that the 15 minutes is valuable, nonetheless.
    I, however, will go to bed early, but then stay up too late reading NutureShock. Hmph.
    Anyway, I will need to reread this book a few times as she grows up (and whatever current research that comes out to debunk this book. sigh.), because there were so many good things to keep in mind for upcoming ages.

  8. I LOVE you are doing this series. DH and I recently listened to the book together on vacation in the car. I am a week behind on my thoughts on praise, but plan to comment as parent of two boys. I am a high school teacher (currently teaching repeaters in S School where praise is a key element) so I am on the front line of this argument.On Sleep, the stats are staggering as to how much brain power and opportunity for learning is being lost. I agree that the old adage that getting more sleep makes you a happier more well adjusted person is not the debate. Rather why not insist on the same for children and look at why schools are part of the problem?
    As a teacher that starts teaching at the un-Godly time of 7:25 am, I can vouch for the fact that kids come in exhausted due to not being able to shut down before rising before their internal clocks would have them up. Ideally my students are most alert around 10 am, ironically just in time for lunch at my school.
    As I was listening to this chapter I wanted to force every school administrator to instead of sinking money into standardized test push & prep, and instead consider buying more buses. As the book details and I can testify to, school systems use a cost effective multi-use busing plan. Who can blame them in this time of cash strapped budgets? Cutting bus allotment seems to have the attractive appeal of being first for elimination in comparison to textbook, class size, or teacher salaries.
    There is no simple answer until viable options are on the table and are presented to parents that allows for a later start time. This could include year- round schools/ modified calendar year, multi track options for working parents, split day, online class options. All have benefit considering that the sole reason that schools start early is money.
    You wouldn’t handicap your best athlete by not providing the best training, nutrition, coaching, or insist on keeping them up night after night. Why is education any different? If we want our kids to succeed then schools need to investigate differing bell schedule options that must include parent education on the benefit of more sleep. Encouraging parents to limiting extracurricular activities as well as gaming and staying online past a reasonable time should be emphasized as making that parental favorite, the Honor roll.

  9. At last a kids’ sleep book that is NOT about babies/toddlers nor blaming & shaming parents! Hooray!This is one for folks with school-aged kids and jr. high & high-schoolers in particular.
    What @megrella said. Change our school start times already to let those kiddos sleep in!

  10. Even though I’m one of those Under Two moms since my daughter is only 7.5 months, I still really liked this chapter for helping us start prioritizing sleep now–since we do the “Oh it’s Nana’s birthday/Mother’s Day/Sunday!” thing so much already and I know it doesn’t help her or us.So, I’m determined to keep this in mind over the next 10 years–should be easy if I get enough sleep right?

  11. We started putting our kids to bed over an hour earlier (we start bedtime at 7:30 pm now, where before we started as late as 9 pm) as a direct result of this chapter.They’re 3 and 4.
    Great discussion! I’m looking forward to coming back to read all the comments (this is a drive by – I’m in the middle of making dinner! πŸ™‚ )

  12. We’re still in the toddler sleep wars so I have no comment there. But, I have some thoughts about this because I think my parents did a really good job. I had a strict 8:30 bedtime until I was in highschool (although I could read in bed). In highschool, my bedtime was moved incrementally by about half an hour each year until it was about 10:30 which was bedtime in grade 11 and 12. Sucked for my social life, but I was well-rested, and excelled academically and at sports/extra-curriculars. I agree that you can’t make kids sleep (boy do I agree with that!) but you can set the stage. One thing my parents did, which was awesome in restrospect, was turning off the TV themselves when it was time for us to start getting ready for bed. I never felt like I was missing out on anything by having to be in my room. And we never had electronics or telephones in the bedroom.If and when the day arrives that my kids have cell phones, it would definitely be a family rule that all phones are plugged in the kitchen at bedtime. No sneaky texting (or, gulp, sexting) from the bedroom after hours.

  13. I found this chapter interesting, especially when they did tests on moving start times at HS’ an hour later. What made me most frustrated, though, is how they can get a couple schools to buy in after trying the program a semester, why is it that all schools aren’t required or encouraged to try. Only a couple select districts… and I’m sure it is like pushing an elephant up a steep hill to get any of the other districts to change.I like your summary of the chapter, Moxie. Nicely put.
    My boys are 5 and I noticed a huge drop off in behavior/ability for them to get along when they get less sleep, even an hour shorter nap makes a huge difference in the afternoon. So I definitely believed the studies the book discussed.

  14. @jac — please no speaking of sexting. I like to read this blog before going to bed and you are setting me up for nightmares (even though Bear is only 3).@ Tera — you stole my thought. We’re forcing our kids into working around the *insane* schedules thrust on us by corporate America in an increasingly 24/7 global economy. Save the grownups, save the children!

  15. I just had my last day of school today. I teach 5th grade, and it was crazy. I’m currently drinking a very large beer so I apologize in advance for not making much sense. I talked with Moxie the other day briefly about this chapter, and how I wanted to poll my class to see how many hours of night time sleep they got and if that correlated at all with their academic achievement and/or their behavior. I made a list of students I suspected were sleep deprived based on their performance/behavior and I came up with 15 students. This morning for one of our FUN! activities designed to kill time on the very last day of school, I asked them to calculate the amount of sleep they got at night during a typical school week. Then they lined up in order of greatest amount of sleep to least amount of sleep.The kids on my list were all over that line, and at first I was really disappointed because I wanted them to be the first fifteen in line. But when I looked at the data, I re-organized it according to bedtime, and the results were pretty amazing. Students who reported a 9:00 bedtime were WITHOUT EXCEPTION my most well-behaved, highest achieving students. There were 9 students on that list, and I can tell you, they consistently are on task, they catch on quickly, they are organized, and they make good decisions in and out of class and perform well on assessments. Students who were on the 10:00 bedtime list, with the exception of only four students, completely rounded out my “Guess List” for kids who did not get enough sleep. Their wake up times varied a bit, but they were all waking up between 6 AM and 8 AM. The few who slept until 8 were all on my list – which I think tells me just how tired they are, that they are needing to sleep until 8 consistently on a school day. School starts at 8:25. These kids are consistently late.
    There were only a couple exceptions – one of my highest achieving students reported going to bed at 10, and another high achiever reported going to bed consistently at 11 or midnight. In both cases I wonder (since I know both of their mothers) how much is true, since there is also a cool-factor these two in particular seek out.
    Of note, one of my students consistently fell asleep in class on a weekly basis and was not ever able to finish an assignment for the entire year. To the point that other teachers have referred him to special ed and told his mother he was ADD – which I don’t think he is. I believe truly he’s just so freaking tired he can’t focus. But he’s significantly below grade level even though he catches onto concepts quickly, can read fluently, and is a decent writer. I believe the problem could possibly be that his brain is unable to properly process the information he learns (since that apparently happens while we sleep), which makes it impossible for him to retain information for tests or other assignments that are graded.
    I realize this is a very, *very* informal polling, and I also know I’m basing my opinions on student’s self-reporting, which can be highly unreliable. But by separating the information out by bedtime, the results seemed to back up the chapter. It was fascinating, and I will certainly be discussing this with parents next year at Back to School Night.

  16. I wonder how the parents of your students might react if some of you teachers copied this chapter and sent it home at the beginning of each school year. Of course, you’d have to get proper copyright permissions, which might be difficult, but it would sure be interesting to see what would happen…

  17. “Schools are tied to early start times because working parents demand it.”Is this true where most Moxites live? My kids’ school starts at 9 (there’s supervised care for parents who need it before and after school, but elementary schools here either start at 8 or at 9. And when I was in elementary school, I started school at 9.

  18. What I found most interesting: We know that insufficient sleep means a kid can’t learn as well the following day. The new info (for me) was that they also can’t properly “file away” what they learned already today. That happens during sleep.

  19. I haven’t read the book but am looking eagerly forward to more discussion until and after I get around to buying it!Sleep is one of my “trigger points,” one of the points of parenting that I really have strong opinions on and readily give strong advice about. There has not been any question in my mind, since my older son was 10 months old (he’s now 3.5), that sleep is extremely high on the list of “must haves,” and that a staggering number of kids toddler-age and up are simply not getting enough.
    I’m a transcriptionist by profession and I transcribe a lot of reports from child psychiatrists who work for a county clinic. Many inquire as to the child’s sleep habits as part of their evaluations. I am constantly shocked by how many elementary schoolers regularly go to bed after 10:00 and are up before 6:30. Some get even less sleep than that! And they are all behavior problems or are depressed or have been labeled as learning disabled, or all of the above. I want to scream “PUT THEM TO BED AT A DECENT HOUR before you try medication!” It just seems so obvious!
    Of course, I am the mother of an 18-month-old who still wakes three times a night to nurse, and I spend a good percentage of the week walking around like a zombie. You don’t have to tell ME how important sleep is!

  20. I am on the same page with @caramama about not being able to make my child sleep. I wholeheartedly believe the hype about how important sleep is, how many children don’t get enough – and I know mine is one of them who frequently doesn’t get enough. But I don’t know how to make it happen!It is true that I’m guilty of not being vigilant enough about bedtime, but we have always had a solid bedtime routine, and I really don’t know how else to improve her sleep hygiene, but she frequently doesn’t fall asleep for a long time after lights out/song/goodnights.
    I too have been wary of reading this book because of what I’ve heard about this chapter, and I’m still skeptical that I won’t feel (more) guilty if I do.

  21. My children are almost 5, 8 and almost 10. Our family is pretty strict about a 7:30 – 8pm bedtime lights-out, (we aim for 7:30 but sometime it ends up 8pm).I think some of the other families at school would be pretty surprised that we have such an “early” bedtime.
    I find the whole school start argument fascinating. Schools here in Australia pretty much all start at 8:45 -9am, regardless of school level (high schools and primary schools). I had no idea (and am shocked) that some school in the USA start as early as 7:25am.
    Most primary schools (up to grade 6 – approx. 12 year old students)have before and after school care available for working parents. Often the before school care involves eating breakfast at school so saving time at home.
    We don’t have school owned buses here, so no need to stagger starting times. We also have no yellow buses. School buses are just ordinary buses, which are contracted to do a school run.

  22. Sorry folks, I knew the beer would impair me….in re-reading my comment, I see that I implied that ADD students can NOT catch onto concepts quickly, read fluently, and be a decent writer. That is actually incredibly not true, and many of them are able to do all of that and more. What I meant to say is that I observed this student show incredible amounts of focus on a task, and yet still not be able to complete an assignment. He would restart an assignment multiple times under the guise of making mistakes, whereas I believe that he simply did not know or remember how to proceed. Apologies to everyone who has children with ADD and/or has it themselves. Careless to drink and comment at the same time!

  23. A major driver of school start-times in non-urban areas is the busing schedule. Typically a district can only afford to purchase/operate one set of buses, so the different school sections have to stagger their start times.We are lucky, I suppose, that our district is apparently one of the few that starts with elementary school and ends with high school (so elementary school starts at 7:40, middle school starts at 8:15, and high school starts at 8:45). When I was growing up, it was the opposite: high school started at 7:40, and elementary school started at 9am, with junior high somewhere in between.
    My kids are so much more cranky when they don’t get their full 9.5 to 10.5 hours (depending on the kid), it’s worth everything I’ve got to make sure they achieve that.
    But oh boy, does it get hard when there are later after-school activities. Next year, we’re going to be trading off home-cooked meals against bedtimes, thanks to the introduction of weekday sports practices in fourth grade.

  24. My 3.5 year old daughter is going thru yet another sleep regression and she is down at least 3 hours of sleep a day (1.5 at night and 1.5 hour at nap time). She has been sleeping badly for a month now so that’s a total of 84 hours less sleep. God, when you think of it like that, it’s a hell of a lot of sleep. Needless to say, she is a bear during the day and her tantrums and throwing tantrums! Here’s hoping that when she gets to school, her sleep will be back on track (and I don’t mean in September either).My 5.5 year old will no doubt be turning in at 8 till he’s not my responsibility anymore. I don’t think we will have too many problems with start time while he is in Primary School at least (8.30; school is up the road).

  25. Anyone else have a kid who sleeps with the sun? If it’s light out 9 times out of 10, he’s awake. I totally agree that not being asleep until 9:15 is ridiculously late for a two and a half year old but even if I have his bedtime routine done and he’s in bed by 8 (or 7:30 even) he will not finish unwinding until it’s dark out and the only way to even keep him semi-quiet in the morning is to remind him that the sun isn’t up yet and it’s not “wake up time” but he’s awake regardless. Nine hours of sleep is his magic number and I’ve found nothing that will increase it.

  26. I’ve been thinking a lot about this issue (really over the last 3 years with my daughter), and I have some additional thoughts to add.First, I wonder if in some cases this may be more of a correlation than a causation. I think this because when my daughter is going through a regression, her sleep goes out the window and her behavoir becomes… let’s say “trying.” We still are doing all the same things with her bedtime: same time, same routine, etc. But she often simply won’t fall asleep for 2 hours, like @maria said about her daughter. I have wondered if there is just too much going on in her body (other kids like her) for her to sleep. So the lack of sleep might not be the actual cause, but instead another symptom of another cause.
    Certainly, plenty of kids stay up too late, and that’s the issue. But I wonder if it’s really true for all. All I (and hubby) can do is try to teach our daughter how to fall asleep. Which for the record, is REALLY REALLY hard to explain to a 3 yo.
    **Anyone have any idea about how to explain what “relax your mind” means in 3 yo language?
    Second, I had heard that teenager’s circadian rhythym is such that their bodies want to fall asleep later and wake up later. So why don’t we change the school times and bus routes so that the elementary schools start first and high schools last (as @Jody says her schools do)? I suspect that most younger kids are up and raring to go for the day at an early time. I have wondered if it’s because the younger kids need more assistence in getting ready for the day, so it’s the parents who need the extra time in the mornings. Which really comes back to parental responsibility for getting ourselves to bed earlier so WE can wake up early to get it all done. Let the teens sleep in later, get up later and go to school later.
    Third, I’ve heard the earlier times are due to the sports in the afternoon. I’m a big believer in sports and extra-curricular activity. But here’s the thing: not all students participate in after-school activities. ALL students GO TO school. I think the schools and extra-curricular activities should consider having some before-school programs to ensure those who want those activities are able to find the time for them, but still providing a later school start time for all teens.
    Look at that! I just solved one of the world’s (or at least USA’s) problems! If only I was Queen of the World!

  27. @mom2boy – I got black-out curtains to help my daughter with the sun issue.Because of my SAD, I’m intensely aware of how the sun affects our sleep patterns. If black-out curtains don’t work for you, I suggest talking with your doctor about using light therapy or melatonin supplements, although he’s still so young! I have considered both for my girl, but I feel like she is still too young for either. As I said above, I am working on teaching her how to get herself to sleep. If it doesn’t work and she’s still having problems by the time she starts elementary school, I’m going to talk with the pediatrician about both. I know some people use those aids earlier, though.
    Oh, and one last thought about melatonin is that excess melatonin in me produces extremely vivid, generally not good dreams (also noted by other people). If your son is prone to bad dreams, it might not be a good idea. That is my other reason I’m holding off on trying my girl with those supplements. Although many people have no such issues.

  28. @mom2boys – my DS (who I think is the same age as yours) was also having this sun problem, falling asleep after nine and waking at 5:15. The blackout curtains weren’t enough for us cuz some light was still leaking in. We ended up tin-foiling his bedroom window, and he’s gone back to a more reasonable bed at 7:30, asleep by 8, and waking around 6:30. It’s still less than he was getting 3 months ago but definitely more in the range of what he needs.

  29. I was horrified the other day at school when I heard another mum threaten her 5-year-old with a 7:30pm bedtime. I thought, “7:30 is going to bed early?”My 5-year-old goes to bed between 6 and 6:30. He gets up anywhere between 6 and 7am.
    My toddler is a bit different, but he still gets roughly 12 hours of sleep per day.
    I remember reading somewhere that kids up to and including 12 years of age need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per 24. Teenagers need roughly 10. Adults need 8 to 10.
    It makes you wonder what would happen to the rate of incidence of road rage if adults were getting enough sleep before driving to work in peak hour…

  30. Usually up at 5.30am. Today was 4.30am….22month old. It’s been like this for months. Got white noise, pitch black room…..today we’re putting the a/c back in and hoping that helps. Just dying over here….

  31. I want to know how frequent these late bed times (or insufficient sleep) has to be before its negative effects are observed. For example, is one night a week of staying up late(r) to hang out with parents going to be bad? What about holidays when staying up late is fun? Just curious to know how to balance these findings with just finding a right rhythm for your family…

  32. Someone up there wondered what the recommended amount of sleep is by age. Here is what the table in Ann Douglas’ Sleep Solutions book says the AAP recommends:0-5 months: 16-20 hrs
    6-11 months: 14-15 hrs
    12 months – 2 years: 10-13 hrs
    3 and 4 year olds: 10-12 hrs
    Note, that these are for total sleep, i.e. both night and naps.
    Unfortunately, the table doesn’t go to higher ages. It does have info about the National Sleep Foundation recommendations (close to the above, but at 11-13 hours for the preschool years), and parent reports on amount of sleep, which tend to fall in the middle of the recommended ages.
    My very challenging sleeper has always been on the low end of the ranges, but honestly shows zero signs of sleep deprivation. She now gets about 9 hours of sleep at night and maybe 1 hour for a nap. She is 3 years old. I think it is important to remember that different people have different sleep needs, and that there is almost certainly a large genetic component to that. For instance, my husband has relatively low sleep needs, and I suspect my 3 year old takes after him in that regard. It is a cruel joke that I am actually a relatively high sleep needs person…. I am hoping that my baby takes after me!

  33. One of the counties in our area switched middle school and high school start times – so that middle schoolers were starting school at 7:30 and home by 2:30; high schoolers were starting at 9:30 and home by 5. (elementary is more 8:30 – 3). Although it saved the school district money and made a more appropriate start time for learning for the high school kids, it left a bunch of 11, 12, and 13 year olds unsupervised from 2:30 – 6, which is kind of a long time IME. At our house, someone could get into a lot of mischfief just being left alone from 4:30-6.For teenagers, sleep and depression….Even if your teenager is sent to bed at a decent hour, whether he/she is sleeping well is something to look for as a sign of more trouble. I think there might be a causal relationship both ways with sleep and depression in teenagers (speaking as a qualified software engineer) – and one of the first things the psychiatrist had us/the teenager do was make sure that he had good sleep habits (e.g. your bed is only for sleeping, go to bed at a decent hour, watch out for caffeine in the hours before bedtime, regular stuff). It helped, but it was not everything – he still had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.

  34. @caramama–I too would like to know “how to explain what “relax your mind” means in 3 yo language?”DS is three yo and ever since he was a baby, he’d have no problem STAYING asleep, but getting the boy to relax and actually FALL asleep takes an eternity (my DS has the opposite problem). I tried savasana (ie: corpse pose, relaxing one area of the body at a time), but little success. May be I should try again, since he’s now hitting his terrible 3.5s…
    (Tangential rant: I also hate this sticky, humid, hot summer of NJ–our AC works OK, but DH gets cold easily and insists on turning the thermostat to 73 degrees, which means the upstairs bedrooms are 80 degrees, which means all of except for him are sweaty, sleepless messes. Arghh!)
    I also like Jac’s parents’ rule and I’m going to try to implement it in my house.
    This sleep business is why I am very reluctant to let go of this house, should the time come for that–we live right across the street from the local high school and our kids could practically roll out of bed and into homeroom–perfect! (Plus, I’d rather my kids bring their friends home to hang out than be god-knows-where doing god-knows-what.)

  35. Okay, so I bought the book and read this chapter (and the first one about praise). I’m mostly loving this book already.Fascinating research. I can see what Moxie says about the authors not really blaming parents, especially since the focus is really for school-aged children who have a lot more going on that affects their sleep than the babies/toddlers/preschoolers. But reading it still gave me some anxiety about The Future. Will my child always have problems sleeping? Will I be able to teach her the right skills for going to sleep and staying asleep? Etc.
    It also made me think a lot about my own sleep, now and when I was younger. I definitely need more sleep, more regulary. Someone please explain that to my kids.
    @Bonnie – I can’t remember what they said about kids, but they did talk about some research on adults who went to bed I think a half hour or hour later than usual for 6 nights in a row, and it was the equivalent of being awake for 24 hours. (I think those numbers are right, or close. I didn’t get enough sleep last night, so I’m not sure my memory is accurate.)

  36. @Koshercow, I am in the same boat. My 4.5 y.o. is up most days by 5:15 a.m., and the effects are horrendous. We have blackout shades, we’ve tried star charts for staying in bed past 6 a.m., we’ve tried the rule of “if you wake up and the first number on the clock is a 5, go back to sleep”, but it just isn’t working. If we try an earlier bedtime, it ends up taking longer (and leads to yelling) b/c she just isn’t tired yet. Advice, please!

  37. Elementary school starts at 9 am where I live (and 9:30 on Thursdays…of all craszy things). I think it goes until 3 or 3:30. I’m sure I’ll need to know this come the fall, but for now, I am happily oblivious.My 5-year old goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:30, depending on activity level, etc. Wake up is 6:30-7 am. So, on average about 11 hours per night. It’s working for him.

  38. Love this book! The one question that kept coming up in mind my was how much control can we really have as the child gets older? DS is only 6 months old, so I am looking at this from the perspective of someone not yet involved. As people have pointed out, we can’t force a kid to sleep. We can set a bedtime, turn out the lights, etc, but what if he won’t sleep? I was a terrible sleeper, so even though I had an early bedtime I still had an awful time falling and staying asleep all night. And what about the circumstances of “life”? My husband and I need to work and because we live in an urban area we need to commute to our jobs. There’s not much we can do to cut down on that, but that means we don’t even get home until after 6pm. If we need to eat, take a bath, etc and put a kid to bed at 7pm, that doesn’t leave much time! Plus, the older kids get the more homework they have. What is a parent to do? Tell the kid not to turn in their homework the next day because they have to go to bed?These are the kind of questions that keep me up at night! Do any parents of older kids want to share how they cope with these issues?

  39. I am a long time reader and first time poster – sleep is a big priorty for us as we could see the obvious results in our daughter (now a bright and healthy 5yr old, I atribute much of this to her sleep!). An early (7 or 8ish) and consistent bedtime not only helps her, but we as parents need the evening to ourselves. Also, we’ve noticed that if kept up too late at this age, she doesn’t get sleepy, she gets wired and I wonder how many families misread this tired cue and end up with too late bedtimes as a result?

  40. @Julie – your 5th grade student who was so tired he seemed ADD should be tested for sleep apnea.My BIL was “learning disabled” all his life til his doctor finally realized he had super-large adenoids and a deviated septum. He was waking up 90 times per hour!
    A little surgery (in his late 20s) and he’s like a totally new person.

  41. I’ve been obsessed with sleep since my guy was a colicky little newborn. He fights sleep, but I’ve found that since he was about a year old, he gets his 12 hours per 24 by hook or by crook. His bedtime is currently 8 pm, but I’m thinking of pushing it 15-30 min earlier since he is getting up at the crack of dawn every single morning. Putting him to bed later doesn’t make him sleep longer in the morning, either– he just pops up wired for sound at 6:00 am no matter what time he goes to bed. Not to mention that he’s been getting out of bed for the last three months (at least 1-3 times before he finally settles, and yes, we’re all “supernanny”, with no talking and no additional attention, just straight back to bed, but he still gets up–maddening!). Our saving grace is the nap at pre-school– he’ll tank up until he’s reached 12 hours of sleep, whether his nap is 1 hr or 2.5. Unfortunately, he doesn’t nap as well at home, but we can usually get him down for 1 hr.An issue I’m struggling with right now is that our bedtime routine is so long. Our routine is dinner, bath (not every night), pj’s, story, songs and cuddling. Pj’s, story, songs and cuddling take close to 30 minutes some nights. I’m thinking of putting myself on a timer– 15 minutes for the whole shebang. Maybe the long routine is winding him up more? I don’t know what more I can do about the getting about of bed, short of a lock on his door, except keep doing the silent escort back to bed. Suggestions?

  42. This is a comment for Chapter One on praise. This is my first time posting here and I wasn’t sure if this post would end up in the right discussion πŸ™‚ Thomas Edison (inventor of the light bulb and lots of other neat stuff) said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I believe this is one of the thoughts behind this chapter because it works for building self-esteem as well. Encouraging very young children to master tasks and skills…to try, try again even when they DON’T succeed, can develop confidence and competence…two of the building blocks of a positive self-image. Empty praise is self-defeating…but positive encouragement in the face of failure is empowering for our children. And for us! Thank you, Moxie, for being one of our “encouragers”!

  43. Hmmm…it looks like my comment on the praise chapter did post on the sleep chapter discussion. Oh well :)However, as a former kindergarten teacher and mother of three, I can attest to the consequences of sleep deprivation (as every mother can, I’m sure!). Tired children (like tired grownups) can be cranky, irritable, less up to meeting the challenges of life, schoolwork, friendhips. Short-term and long-term health issues are definitely linked to lack of sleep. And now, as several other people have commented, with TV’s, computers, phones, etc. in older children’s rooms, there is so much less “control” parents have over when children will actually be sleeping…perhaps the answer is to UNPLUG! πŸ™‚ Very hard to buck the technology trend…but perhaps for the health of our children it is something that has to be done.

  44. We aim for 7pm bedtime but sometimes it slips. We are trying quite hard though because one of my sons needs a lot of sleep and if he doesn’t get it, he is whiny. The other kid is an insomniac and he gets up and gets in bed with us at least twice a night. The first time is around 1-2am. The second time is usually 5am or so and if he goes right to sleep, I let him stay there and we all get some more sleep. If I put him back in bed at that hour, he decides he would rather be up and about, having fun and waking everyone up, including his brother who needs to sleep.I think he has a lot of nightmares. I sometimes think he would get a lot more sleep if we just let him sleep with us, but because he tends to plaster himself onto my back when he is in our beds (I sleep on my side) I get a lot less sleep when he is in our bed.
    My insomniac has been like this since babyhood. I used to put him to sleep in his bouncer and his brother in the crib. I would put the bouncer next to the couch and then try to take a nap. He would startle awake and then look for me. If he saw me, he would go back to sleep. If he didn’t, he would start to cry and that would be the end of the nap. This would go on every 15 minutes or so.
    Now I am going to bed.

  45. I was off to bed myself when I read the above comment. My heart goes out to you! Depending on the book you read, you either let your child scream and insist he stay in his own bed/room…or you have a communal bed where the entire family sleeps πŸ™‚ My two oldest (boys) were pretty good about sleeping in their own beds/rooms…but my youngest (a girl) would wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and could not fall back to sleep. I also think she had nightmares. I finally “compromised” and she would come in to our room quietly with her blanket and pillow and sleep on the floor next to our bed…many, many nights for quite a few years. I think she needed the closeness. It is really difficult to sleep with a child in a bed, as they are usually extremely restless sleepers. But, no one can tell you what is best for you. The only consolation is that it will get better πŸ™‚ At some point πŸ™‚ (My restless sleeper is now married with a son of her own who sometimes keeps her up at night) Can you nap during the day? Or trade off occasional night duty with husband/partner/anyone else? Sometimes a brief respite can restore your sanity.

  46. Just a suggestion for the early waker that had a kid with a 4:30 wakeup. Here’s a trick – you have a light on a timer (small one) or one of the special alarm clocks made for kids that changes color when they are supposed to wake up. We have an alarm clock that turns green at 6:30. In the beginning, the boys would wake up before then and just talk/play but they knew they were not to come out before the light turns green. Now, they generally sleep til 6:30 or later as they know it is not time to get up before then. It really works, even for kids under 2.

  47. This chapter hit home for me as well. My jr. high and high school started at 7:20 am (combined buses). Before I could drive myself, I’d have to be at the bus stop at 6:50. I’m a night owl by nature anyway, but having to get up at 6:30 (entire morning routine streamlined, lunch packed etc.) was brutal, because even if I made it to bed at 11 I was not asleep, I was reading. I’m sure I rarely if ever got 8 hours of sleep at night, let alone any extra, except on weekends. Once I could drive, I could be there on time, if my ancient car started in the cold (sometimes my mom would warm it up for me – Alaskan winters are different) if I left at 7. My mom spent 6 years prying me out of bed, then the following year my little brother started jr. high and they had to do it again. I know it got worse for me in high school, and I don’t think it’s because I was staying up later. I was Ms. Goody-Two-Shoes as far as staying out, and the worst thing I remember doing is cutting class to come home and take a nap! Some winter mornings I would get out of bed, go into the bathroom, and curl up on the heat vent with a towel over myself and fall asleep for another 10 minutes, until my mom would start hollering again.My guy is 3.5 and gave up naps over a year ago. He does have an energy lull in the afternoon and at daycare he will lay quietly on his nap mat and look at books or “rest his body” while everyone else sleeps. At home I try to do something similar at that time of day, and if we happen to be in the car or on a walk he will usually doze off in the stroller (but don’t call it a nap, please!) We start bedtime at 7:45 and try to be saying goodnight by 8:30 but (did I mention he’s 3.5?) in practice he’s up and down until 9:15 or so. He wakes pretty reliably at 7:15 on his own. According to Ferber toddlers need about 11 hours of sleep total so I guess we are in the ball park. If for some reason he wakes up a lot in the night, which seems to happen during growth spurts, or if he wakes up really early, he is grouchy and fragile all day. Those are the days he really needs a nap, and though he tries, he doesn’t seem to be able to put himself out even if he knows he needs to. I really hope that schools have this figured out by the time he is a teenager!

  48. I’m a little late to the party, but I have a good (OT) excuse – was on my first business trip without DS, and….it was a complete success (despite my much worrying that it would so not be)! So relieved to now have crossed off that milestone. OK, back to the topic at hand.Though I generally agree with @Moxie and others who felt that the chapter wasn’t judgemental or made parents feel guilty, I have to say that it still left me with some stress around the issue. Mostly for what @caramama said: Worries about The Future. I’ll qualify all my comments with saying that DS is 2 and we’ve just in the last month gotten him to start sleeping through the night. (Woot!) Even though I’m getting fairly full nights’ sleeps now, I’m still sleep deprived and so the sleep topic is still sensitive (hence perhaps part of the reason the chapter causes me a bit of stress, despite the fact I found it extremely interesting). Really, I think it’s just the combination of knowing why kids need the amount of sleep they do, combined with the fact as others have mentioned that you can’t force a kid to sleep, and well, the resulting stress around what to do if you can’t get your kid to have the requisite amount.
    We place sleep above almost every other issue in our parenting approach. It’s rare that we’ll forgo a nap in order to do some activity, or keep DS up late for special occasions. So after reading this chapter, I feel good that there are many, many great reasons to keep at it. And to be honest, just learning that kids need that time to process what they’ve learned is the extra kick I need to try and get DS to sleep later than 5am. Yes, @Koshercow and @LittlePumpkin, we’ve got one of those too. And it sucks.
    For this early wake up time, I’ve had moderate success with rubbing DS’ back (while he’s standing in his crib, trying to climb out via me) while telling him that ‘Papa is asleep, the dog is asleep, the cat is asleep…it’s not time to wake up yet. time to go back to sleep’. He ends up curling up and going back to sleep until at least 6 or 6:30 am which I consider a reasonable wake-up time. So far, this has worked the 3 times I’ve tried it. After reading the chapter, I think I’m going to make more of a concerted effort to get him to sleep at least until 6am regularly. After sleep training for through the night I was at first thinking, well, I can deal with a 5am wake-up (way better than waking up multiple times in the night). But I think I have the energy now to push on further. Today he woke up at 5:30. Took me 1/2 an hour to get him back down (mostly BF). But, I got him to go back to sleep until 7:40!! A new record.
    Depending on everything goes, we may decide to get one of those alarm clocks that change colour when it’s time to wake up.
    @Jac, I totally had the same reaction/thought as you did regarding electronics in the bedroom. DS is totally going to plug in anything he will eventually have in the living room to recharge overnight while he sleeps. I won’t allow electronics (TV mainly) in our bedroom because, quite frankly, if there will be any activity other than sleep happening there, I don’t want it to be TV! And having a computer in the bedroom totally stresses me out. Even though I use my computer for fun. For me computer = work = not relaxing, which is what a bedroom should be. So at least we’ll be a good example for DS.

  49. Here’s a different idea. I am sure that my parents’ insistence on a 7.30 bedtime until I was in high school (I got up around 6.30) and an 8.30 bedtime for most of high school, completely and utterly fucked me up to have normal adult sleeping patterns. Until I was 18, the latest I had ever slept in was 9.30am (after a 2am bedtime, after a concert). All of this set my body clock so strongly that I just can’t sleep in and catch up – if I don’t go to bed at just the right time, which is really difficult if I want to have a normal adult’s social life and stay awake after 9pm at night.It sux.
    So seriously… let your kids stay up… just occasionally… there are clear benefits to the routine but you can go too far!!!

  50. when I’m working, he’ll do even more — the weekdays are all mine. I do about 90-95% of the work during the week, regardless of my employment status, because he has an intense, inflexible job. I used to be ticked off about that situation, but I’m just used to it now.

  51. Well, this post is more then a year old, but I’m going to comment anyway. πŸ™‚ SOmeone sent me a link to this discussion which was the first time I heard of NurtureShock and I just had to read it. I do wish that it had stated the amount of sleep that kids are getting now and in the past so we could compare ourselves!My husband and I were discussing this and decided that the lack of sleep most likely stems from the rise of the two income family. There are just not enough hours in the day now to get everything done and have some quality family time so we sacrifice sleep. It is probably also that as a culture we have started to over schedule our kids with sports and music and chess club and whatever else so we do want to spend some time with them in the evenings. Even as a stay at home mom to a first grader involved in one sport and no other lessons, I am amazed at how much time school takes up and how temping it is to let him stay up late so we can have some time together as a family. We home schooled for kindergarten, and I am constantly temped to do so again. If his school wasn’t so awesome I totally would.

  52. The author’s point that prayer is still a powerful tool and suggest that even the kind of mindful prayer he outlines at the end can be messy, pleading and misguided…at least for those of us in transition.I am very grateful for this article, as it is helping me on a path of turning back towards prayer, which I’ve long forsaken except in times of desperation.I remain religious and choose to live a worshipful life.

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