Kids Need a Lot of Sleep

kids need a lot of sleep

My wife and I have a fairly laissez-faire approach to rules when it comes to parenting — we err on the side of indulgence in most matters. But when it comes to bedtime we are pretty rigid. Our kids are asleep sometime between 7:30 & 8:30 at night. My son is up fairly regularly at 7 and my daughter gets up with some difficulty around 7:30 for school. They are five and seven and the crazy thing is I think they could use more sleep.

As an adult I sleep between six and seven hours a night and I haven’t woken up to an alarm clock in over twenty years. I don’t think it would be physically possible for me to sleep eight straight hours. But in my teens and even twenties I slept and slept and slept.

In the nineteen eighties I lived for a couple of years in Jersey City, New Jersey while my girlfriend and I worked in restaurants in Manhattan. We would meet up after work and drive home, making our fair share of stops at the White Castle on Kennedy Blvd between the Holland Tunnel and our home. That was the first time I encountered little kids of all ages awake and hanging out at three in the morning. It was a pretty surreal sight that soon became normalized with repetition.

When my daughter was two & a half we lived below a family with a boy her age who was routinely up and running around until midnight before waking up for pre-k like my daughter. I think he took four hour naps in the afternoon but still it seemed a bit much to me.

Back in the day there were a couple of books by Jerzy Kosinski that I liked. Eventually his private life became more interesting/odd than his writing. One detail I remember is he would sleep twice a day. From 8 am to noon and again from 8 pm to midnight. While I found this amusing I also thought it a bit insane.

Everyone has different needs when it comes to sleep but children and teenagers need a whole lot more than most people realize. The developing brain and body have needs that we don’t always tune into as childhood flies by.


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