Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Yawn: Let's Put Jordan to Sleep!

Today I'm talking about one of those subjects no one talks about, or thinks about from what I can tell. Let's talk about sleep, hunh? And not just any sleep, children's sleep. It's a topic I take a lot of flak on, here in Jordan. Starting from the day we moved, I stood out like a sore thumb. Much to people's surprise and amazement, the Beans all sleep between 7 and 7:30. Every day. Yes, even on weekends, they're in bed by 7:30. Oh, and yes even in the summer they're in bed by 7:30. Mean MommaBean makes no exceptions.

During the first two years we lived here, I must have been told at least 20 times that I put my kids to bed "rather early". It was always said in this kind of awed and disbelieving voice. Like 7 pm bed times are so outside the norm that I'm almost an alien in my strangeness. And, I'm okay with that. After all, I have three well-rested, generally well-behaved kids. What do I have to complain about?

So, today I got a message from BabyCenter, an excellent resource for parents, both new and experienced. Today's information was on sleep. Although the Beans sleep very well, I read it for two reasons. First, I wanted to see where the Beans fall as far as amount of sleep needed at their new ages. Second, I wondered if they'd have any advice that might help JujuBean get to sleep quicker. Unfortunately she takes after me. The other Beans take after El 3atal. Their heads hit the pillow and they are asleep. JujuBean is like me. She generally takes about 25-30 minutes to fall asleep at night. I remember those days of agony. They lasted until I had kids. So, goal one was definitely satisfied. I'm dropping in BabyCenter's chart so that you other parents will know how much sleep your kids need. This is their information, not mine and I appreciate that they make it available.

Data from

Age Nighttime sleep Daytime sleep Average total sleep
2 years 10.5 to 12.5 hours 1 to 3 hours (1 nap) 11.5 to 15.5 hours
3 years 10.5 to 12.5 hours 1 to 3 hours (1 nap) 11 to 14 hours
4 years 10 to 12 hours 0 to 2.5 hours (1 or no nap) 10 to 13 hours
5 years 10 to 12 hours 0 to 2.5 hours (1 or no nap) 10 to 12.5 hours
6 years 10 to 11.5 hours none 10 to 11.5 hours
7 years 9.5 to 11.5 hours none 9.5 to 11.5 hours
8 years 9.5 to 11.5 hours none 9.5 to 11.5 hours

• Note: The two sets of numbers don't always add up because children who take longer naps tend to sleep fewer hours at night, and vice versa.

Imagine, 6 year olds need 10 to 11.5 hours of sleep a night. So, that means that the TwinBeans, who have to get up at 6:15 to eat breakfast before school, need to be in bed between 7 and 8. And even ButterBean needs to be in between between 7:30 and 8. So, our continued timing is good. Unfortunately, JujuBean needs more sleep. Since she has trouble falling asleep, she almost always had to be woken for school. ButterBean and JuniorBean are up and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. JujuBean drags and looks tired in the mornings. She makes it, but it's tough for her and she eats faster and sleeps a tad later than the others.

Tiredness like that is a symptom that the child isn't getting enough sleep. Other symptoms include behavioral problems... I've seen a few of those here. Okay, I've seen voluminous numbers of those in Jordan. Which comes as little surprise as I also routinely see kids out with mom and dad at 11:30pm.

There are actually a number of symptoms of sleep-deprivation in kids (which are different than in adults). They include:
  1. Frequent loss of temper
  2. Grumpy mornings
  3. Moodiness and irritability
  4. Overactivity and hyper-activity
  5. Frequent and short daytime naps.
But, why does it matter? Well, the impact of sleep deprivation is significant. Your body needs sleep in the same way it does food and water. Lack of sleep causes:
  • Short attention span
  • Poor memory skills
  • Poor judgment
  • Poor concentration
  • Growth issues (did you know that your kids grow at night?)

So, really do parents intend to do these things to their kids? I expect not. I think most have no idea of the impact of this sleep deprivation on their kids. Culturally, kids awake late at night is fine. So, many parents simply aren't aware of the damage they may be doing. They also are increasing their kids' likelihood of developing diabetes and heart disease.

BabyCenter also address some of those persistent myths that just won't go away (like the age-old tired, my baby won't sleep at night if he naps...). This is a must-read for everyone: 7 Sleep Myths .

So, I say, let's put Jordan to sleep. Night night Jordan...

Happy Dreams!


At 6:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Momma Bean - YES! Thank you for talking about this. I have always been so surprised to see people letting their kids stay up until all hours. Even little 2 and 3 year old children.

In my own sociology analysis (which is probably worthless) I always wondered if the desert heat drives a culture to be more nocturnal? But that doesn't change the fact that SCHOOLS START EARLY.

We try to start reading at 7:30 each night so that the boy is nodding off at 8:00. There are sometimes exceptions... but never on school nights. And Mean Momma Emi also enforces this through the summer. I don't want the boy's schedule all mucked up just because he's out of school - it's a habit we've built and we're keeping it. Despite everyone else's shock and horror.

(And let's face it: parents need a bit of time to themselves too!)

At 8:41 AM , Anonymous kinzi said...

Bravo 3alayki MommaBean!!! Just realized I need to get my younger two to bed a tad earlier. :)

At 9:11 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Emi, that's my thought exactly! When do people get mommy and daddy time if the kids are up until 10 or 11 (or later). And I agree with you on the start time of school. Very early for the poor little late sleepers.

At 9:14 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

And, Kinzi, I was a bit surprised. They mentioned that teenagers need a good amount of sleep as well. Good to know.

At 11:13 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Spending Summer vacations in Amman at my parents' made everyone I know there accuse me of being a bad and an unfair mom! I put my girl to sleep at 7 pm no matter what. It got hard sometimes and I suffered especially when relatives and friends visited at night with all their kids hyper, loud and all.
And by the way a lot of Jordanians here deal with the same issue like those in Jordan.
Thanks for the chart and link! Great post:)!

At 11:22 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Nido, yeah I know it can be heard. It took awhile after we moved for everyone to realize that when we said, no the kids can't come to an event that starts at 7 we meant it ;). Hang in there and I'm glad you can benefit from the links.

At 11:53 PM , Blogger abu 'n um tulip said...

A couple years ago I was in summer mode and we often put the kids to bed at 9 pm and they'd get up around 8 or 8:30. I felt 9 was a bit late, but we enjoyed visiting our Arab friends and as we were sleeping in, it worked. A friend asked me about my kids sleeping habits. When I told her, she commented, "Wow, if they go to sleep early, they'll wake up early!". 9 pm was incredibly early in her book.

It is amazing to me how elementary school aged kids can fall asleep anywhere. On picnics, amidst chaos, noise, and bright sun, they take naps - obviously out of exhaustion.

I've often said, as a teacher, we could revolutionize the education system here by doing one thing. Forget better teaching practices, better curriculum, etc., how about making sure each child that walks in the doors of the school has had a full night's sleep!

~ Um Tulip

At 4:13 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Um T, Seriously, nap time would be a great idea... remember those blue mats? Teehee. And, yes, we do put our kids to bed rather early... teehee.

At 11:29 PM , Anonymous Shelby Reynolds (Loving Rice) said...

I have just found your blog and am loving your assertive nature! I am a mom of two, with one on the way and I often find that people are shocked with those of us that are alright with following our own parenting rules. My daughter (just turned 6) is EXHAUSTED by her first year of school and is often in bed by 6 pm! People are shocked, but she's well rested and happy come morning time. Thanks for writing about a subject that isn't always widely accepted!

We are an expat family living in Thailand and are looking at Amman as a future possibility. You mention that your child(ren) are school aged. We are also americans and i'm just beginning to research schools. Do you have any suggestions on a school or schools that you or your friends enjoy?! My daughter is currently in Kindergarten.

Thanks and I look forward to reading more of your blog! Enjoy your summer holidays.

At 7:26 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Shelby, welcome to the blog and I hope one day we will gt to welcome you to Amman. It is a difficult subject and one that can be even harder in countries where late bed-times are the norm.

Please send me a private message at mommabean at windowslive dot com so we can discuss schools off-line...

At 7:27 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Shelby, welcome to the blog and I hope one day we will gt to welcome you to Amman. It is a difficult subject and one that can be even harder in countries where late bed-times are the norm.

Please send me a private message at mommabean at windowslive dot com so we can discuss schools off-line...

At 12:49 PM , Anonymous said...


I hope all is well with you. Healthline just published an infographic detailing the effects of sleep deprivation on the body. This is an interactive chart allowing the reader to pick the side effect they want to learn more about.

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Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager

Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp

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