Sleep and rest are cornerstones of Waldorf-inspired parenting and education. Waldorf education is the only educational method that utilises a rhythm of teaching in conjunction with sleep in order to aid learning.”
Rudolf Steiner’s work and teaching brought many insights which now are proven by conventional science. It is wonderful to get a good night’s sleep, for it is then that we re-charge our energies and prepare ourselves for the next day and all that it holds. It is also during sleep that we digest the day that was: from experiences to information gleaned.
3 – 5 years old: 11 to 13 hours
5 – 12 years old: 10 to 11 hours
12 – 18 years old: 8.5 to 9.5 hours
But it is not only necessary to get a good night’s sleep, but to get the sleep you need: sleep is important for adults, but even more so for children. It is recommended that adults get an average of 8 hours. Children require more.
A child can handle missing 1 hour of sleep for one night. However, if they miss 1 hour of sleep for multiple nights, it is as if they missed 2 hours on the second night. By the third night, it is as if they missed 3 hours and so on. This creates a sleep debt. By the end of the week, the sleep debt is so great the child cannot even make it up on the weekend.
Symptoms of sleep deprivation
• Hyperactivity: unlike adults who slow down when tired, children find it hard to sit still and have a harder time learning.
• Lack of focus/ attention problems: a tired child is unable to focus on tasks, which can lead to frustration and emotional outbursts. The child can become forgetful and make mistakes they wouldn’t normally make. They may talk excessively because they are trying to stimulate their brain to regain their focus.
• Moodiness – sleep deprived children have trouble managing emotions. They may lack patience and become frustrated easily; be bossy or demanding and as a result have more conflicts with peers and parents.
• Attendance issues: sleep deprivation might weaken the immune system and shifts the balance of hormones in the body (especially growth hormones)
• Dulled memory; and
• Clumsiness and impulsivity: prone to injuries, clumsy, impulsive or plays in a more weird or frenzied way than is usual.
Preparing for Sleep
To prepare for sleep is already a big step towards having a good night’s sleep:
• Quietly reviewing the day just as we finally lie down or just before we kiss our children to sleep is a precious way to move from being awake to falling asleep.
• Children can also benefit greatly from a short story to set the mood of calm before they close their eyes.
• A regular prayer of thanks is also quite appropriate before sleep.
• Waking in the morning with a minute or two of quiet often allows a dream to accompany us through the day.
Sleep keeps the brain fresh and helps retain information. Children form their memories best during sleep. Children who sleep well at night will remember the previous day’s lessons better than children who are sleep deprived. Children at their best (healthy and rested) get a lot more out of life – ready to deal with social challenges and experiences that they may face.
Wishing you a good sleep at all times!