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Sleepy Science

Here I am, 8 days into an 18 day stretch in which my spouse is overseas and I am the only parent responsible for three mild-mannered, well-behaved children, and I am TIRED. I have tried all manners of “tricks” to make my life easier and more manageable, mostly including lots and lots of screen time, but nonetheless, I am still tired. In one of my many attempts to figure out how to make this time period less tiring, I started looking into what kinds of bedtimes would be good for my children (ages 8.5, 6, and 3.5 years old). Maybe they are not sleeping enough, I thought, visions of a 630pm bedtime floating tantalizingly close before my eyes.

What does the science say about this? Here is a handy sleep chart for kids of all ages: According to this website, my older two children should be sleeping 9 to 11 hours. That means when they go to sleep at 9:30 pm, after a half hour of negotiations and one hour of reading, they should be waking up at 6:30 am or later. Shockingly, that is pretty accurate for them, although the bedtime often creeps later than 9:30 and the wake ups can be as early as 6.

What about the preschooler? The chart says he should be sleeping 10-13 hours. He normally goes to sleep around 8:30pm (same half hour or so of bedtime negotiations), and wakes up around 6 am. So not quite 10 hours, but not too far off.

So their bedtimes are not the problem, unfortunately. What is the culprit? Probably mine. Adults need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep for optimal functioning. When the kids finally go to sleep around 930 or 10pm, I generally work at the computer until 11:30 or midnight….then up at 6 with the preschooler….is 6-6.5 hours. Not terribly off from the minimum, but probably not enough.

Does missing one hour of sleep affect my functioning? Science says unequivocally yes. Check out this website for more details:

There is a whole body of literature around proper “sleep hygiene,” how to do bedtimes, room lighting, temperature of the rooms, etc, all to get optimal sleep. As a family, we do none of this, but we probably should. Here are some websites to check out on this topic:;; and,33009,2109149-3,00.html.

Happy sleeping, readers!

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