Why Are Some Kids So Tired?

Years ago children were seen and not heard; bedtimes were set and honored; snacks were an occasional treat; mealtimes were regular; the family ate dinner together every night. Not so nowadays with parents’ busy schedules; unfortunately kids often lack the benefits of a regular schedule, especially with regard to bedtime. Here at the karate school we often observe kids with little energy in class. From our conversation with some of the children it seems that many are not getting enough sleep. While children are growing they need to get plenty of sleep. Small babies often sleep 20 hours a day, while toddlers will happily take a nap every afternoon in addition to 12 hours or more of sleep a night. Even after kids no longer need a nap, 12 hours a night is a good sleep schedule. Once children begin school there is a tendency for some children to stay up too late at night.
When I was growing up I went to bed at 7:00 pm every night and got up at 7:00 am in the morning until I was about eight years old. My bedtime was extended to 7:30 pm from age eight to ten and then extended again to 8:00 pm from age ten to twelve.
When I went away to boarding school, right before my twelfth birthday, I recall complaining in letters home to my parents that I was not getting enough sleep. Lights out was at 9:00 pm and we got up at 6:45 am, just nine and three quarter hours, ra-ther than my usual eleven hours. Of course, I got used to the schedule which was extended again when I was about fourteen to lights out at 9:30 pm, which was my bedtime until I left school at age sixteen. This regimen allowed me to get through my growing years with plenty of sleep, and as a result plenty of energy for my daytime schedule.
From speaking to parents over the years I know that many children get up early for school and stay up late at night, often not getting to bed until after 10:00 pm, but having to get up at 6:00 am to get ready for school. This is why some kids are so tired. Some experts believe that hyperactivity in young children is related to them trying to stay awake; if they were not so hyper they would be sleeping. Ideas like “bedtime” and “lights-out”, and a recognition of the importance of sleep as an essential ingredient to good health, along with a productive day-time schedule, can contribute to the quality of the lives of children. We can expect children to be fully awake during the day provided that they are getting enough sleep during the night.
© 2017 Shihan Robert H. Mason