A Wisconsin elementary school teacher recently shared a chart of optimal sleep times for children, and although the guide went viral on Facebook, parents and experts say it's not necessarily feasible.
On August 28, a kindergarten and first grade teacher from Wilson Elementary School named Stacy Karlsen posted the chart on the school's Facebook page, Kenosha News reports. The rules provided an answer to the common back-t0-school question, "At what time should your child go to bed?"
With suggested wake-up and sleeping times for children ages 5-12, the chart provides options, roughly based on different schools' start times. If a 5-year-old needs to wake up at 6 a.m., he or she should go to bed at 6:45 p.m.. If the child goes to sleep at 7 p.m., the wake-up time should extend 15 minutes accordingly. For 8-year-olds who need to wake up at 6 a.m., their bedtimes should be 7:30 p.m.. Twelve-year-olds who have to rise at the same time are advised to go to sleep at 8:15 p.m.
The post has been shared over 375,000 times. Some parents praised the chart, calling it a "great resource" and asking for a similar one for adults. Others, however, said it was too much of a pipe dream. "Somebody doesn't live in the real world do they?," wrote Wanda Smith. Many parents said the chart was unrealistic because of homework and extracurricular activities that run into the evening.
Others pointed out that it wasn't a good option for working parents, who arrive home later. "Maybe if they didn't have homework this would be possible, but being working parents, there's no time for everything to be done and in bed by the suggested time." wrote Rob Nuncio.
Experts recognize the merits and flaws in this chart as well. "It really does show you how hard it is to get enough time for your kids to sleep!" Kelly Glazer Baron, an assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, told The Huffington Post. "At best, this is an interesting chart to look at, but in reality, it may not work for your particular kid or family," she added, noting that all kids don't require the same amounts of sleep and that sleep times don't necessarily decrease linearly by 15 minutes each year.
Psychotherapist and co-author of The Happy Sleeper Heather Turgeon echoed the importance of recognizing individual variation. "You can't just go by the numbers -- you have to look at the child to know if they're sleeping optimally," she said, pointing to signs like mood and level of fatigue as indicators.
Turgeon also addressed the parents' concerns in the comments section as well. "A child's sleep and wake up schedule depends on a lot of factors: homework, activities, what time parents get home from work, what time the child has to wake up for school," she said. "It's a puzzle, but sleep should be a priority. If your child needs to be woken up in the morning, it's time to pare down on activities or shift the schedule earlier."
Despite the variation, there are general guidelines parents can keep in mind when setting bedtimes."We often give the general rule of thumb of '10 under 10,' meaning 10 hours for children under 10 years of age," pediatric sleep expert, Dr. Jodi Mindell told The Huffington Post. "Also, multiple studies show that children who go to bed before 9:00 get much more sleep than those who go to bed later than 9:00."
Ultimately, parents' goals in planning bedtime remains consistent: Figure out what's best for your child and your family.
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