Bedtime with kids is difficult enough. After corralling them together, getting everyone showered, into their pajamas, onto a potty, teeth brushed, one last drink of water please, into one room for a story and then, somehow, into their own beds, most parents look up at the clock and realize they're lucky if they have time for one damn Netflix show before they have to hit the sack.
For many families, an 8:30 p.m. bedtime is just right — for others, it's a parenting goal they'd kill to one day reach. And now there's a kids' sleeping chart floating around out there in the universe that might make you want to throw in the towel altogether and just let your kids start keeping Rihanna's hours. Because, seriously, what's the use?
The folks over at Wilson Elementary School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, had their hearts in the right place when they provided this chart for parents so they could use it as a guideline — one that could double as a surefire way to make their children laugh hysterically in your face each night. Kids ages 5 through 12 are given appropriate bedtimes based on the time they wake up in the morning. So, just to give you some idea: if you go by the chart, a 5-year-old who wakes up at 6 a.m. should be snoring by 6:45 p.m. — this is the most extreme example. A 12-year-old, on the other hand, who wakes at the same time is given a bedtime of 8:15 p.m., or two hours shy of when most of his friends are in peak virtual zombie-killing mode.
Here's the full chart:
While there isn't a parent on Earth who wouldn't kill for their kids to comply with these guidelines, is it truly realistic? More important: Is this really how much sleep kids need to properly function? Maybe not.
"The sleep chart is not really scientific," says Dr. Danelle Fisher, chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, although she says it does touch on some accepted sleep guidelines.
"School-aged children need about 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, while middle school-aged children should try for 9 to 10 hours a night," says Dr. Fisher.
Not your kid? That's OK.
"There is some variation in how much sleep each individual needs both in childhood and adulthood," Fisher notes. "Think of adults who need only six hours of sleep a night to function, and then think of those who need 8 to 9 hours or more. The same goes for some children. The general principles of the chart are good, but the chart is not anything I would hand out to my patients."
And there you have it. Kids really are just like us, and some of them actually need less sleep than this chart would have you believe. At the same time, hey, if you can swing these bedtimes for your kids, it can only help provide them with more energy and focus the next day at school.
Bottom line: Pin this chart to an inspiration board, but don't be shocked when your 7-year-old can't fall asleep a minute before 9:15. The world needs night owls too.
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