Sometimes a good night sleep is hard to come by.

Sometimes a good night sleep is hard to come by.

With busy schedules including long days at work, rushing to get kids to extracurricular activities, making dinner, helping with homework, getting kids ready for bed and preparing for the next day, just to do it all over again, a lot of times we find ourselves sleep deprived. Although these are things that have to be done, I encourage you to develop a routine that allows you to accomplish all your daily tasks, but also allows you to get to bed a little earlier each night to make sure you get the sleep your body needs.

With school back in session, it's important that our children are getting the required amount of sleep they need to function properly in school. According to children ages 5-12 years need 10 to 11 hours a sleep a night, while children ages 12 and over need 8.5 to 9.5 hours. To me, 11 hours of sleep sounds like a lot. And with busy lifestyles, activities, homework and all the other things that occupy our children's time it's almost unattainable. But, I think the important thing to remember here is that children need adequate sleep to excel. That might mean less time on the computer or in front on the television, which might cause some disagreements initially, but earlier bedtime is sure to pay off in the long run. When the body doesn't get enough sleep it causes us to be tired, cranky and maybe even not think clearly, so let's develop a bedtime routine that will hopefully give our children the sleep they need to send them off every day rested and alert.

Although adults don't need as much sleep as children, it's still important to help us feel and perform our best. As stated on "most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night, although some people may need as few as five hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep." The website also suggests that if during the day you feel drowsy, you haven't had enough sleep.
Some of the benefits of getting enough sleep include reducing stress, feeling more alert, keeping your heart healthy, motivating you to lose weight and some studies suggest it may help prevent cancer.

According to www.sleepfoundation .org, napping during that day could be very beneficial. The website suggested, "a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance." It went on to mention other benefits of taking a short nap helps us not feel groggy while also not interfering with our nighttime sleep. While napping during the day on a weekday isn't an option for most of us, possibly squeezing in a short nap with our children on the weekend isn't such a bad idea.

So as we look to making the best of this school year for our children and ourselves, encourage earlier bed times to feel better and do better. Sleep well!

Sarah Sonis is program director for the Freeman Southwest Family YMCA.