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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Susanna Wesley's Household Rule #2

Here are my thoughts on Susanna Wesley's Household Rules:

Rule #2: As children they are to be in bed by 8 p.m.
Stardust's bedtime is around 8 to 8:30pm (although on special occasions, he is allowed to stay up past 9:30pm) and several of my peers feel that he sleeps too early.

The reason why I chose 8pm as Stardust's bedtime is I want him to have a good, long sleeptime and wake up fresh at around 7 to 7:30am in the morning.  Singapore is much cooler during the morning hours, and an early start ensures that we will have the opportunity to go outdoors for a short while before the world turns into a sauna.  Additionally, most schools in Singapore start the day as early as 7:15am, so I figured that it would be a good idea to get him into the habit of early rising, so that his mind is the most active during the morning when learning will take place.

A bedtime of 8pm also means that Stardust gets the chance to see MDH off to work in the morning as well as spend a few hours with him during the evening.

Stardust, at the moment, also takes a late afternoon siesta for an average of 2 hours between 2:30pm and 6pm (the hottest part of the day).  This gives me a chance to prepare the evening meal, as well as have an hour for myself to relax.

Since I have arrived in Singapore, I have noticed that many of the children here have very poor sleeping habits.  I have no problem with children sleeping past 8 pm, as long as they are allowed to wake up late the next day.  However, many of the school-going children here tend to sleep at around 10 or 11pm, waking up as early as 5 or 6am in order to get to school.  

I must admit that not everybody needs 10 hours of sleep in order to function, however, after talking to a few schoolteachers, many of their students fall sleep in class or appear sullen and exhausted.  I have also noticed that pre-schoolers who have poor sleep habits tend to have short attention spans and an even shorter temper.  I am very aware that if Stardust goes to bed late, the next day is a total write-off.

I think that parents underestimate the importance of a good night's rest.  The guideline for adults is an average of 8 hours sleep (that is, some people need more and others need less), but for young adults and children, an average of 12-15 hours of sleep is required (infants need much, much more - around 18 hours).

The reason why children need more sleep than adults is because sleep is essential for the growth and rejuvenation of the body - not just the skeleton and muscles, but also the immune and nervous system.  The growth hormones are preferentially secreted during sleep, and it has been suggested that deep 'REM' sleep is absolutely necessary for normal brain development, specifically memory processing and reinforcement.

Sleep deprivation or any accumulation of a sleep 'debt' results in fatigue - usually manifested in the form of 'microsleep' episodes ('nodding off' for a few seconds) and a reduced ability to control emotions. 

Therefore, a well-rested child is one who is physically fit, emotionally stable and mentally alert, ready to listen and to learn.  Susanna Wesley, unlike most of her contemporaries during the age of Querelle des Femmes, was a firm believer in education and she homeschooled all her children in the basics of reading, writing and 'rithmetic.

As one can see, the old saying, 'early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise', is quite true.

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Anonymous Hamster said...

Hamster Jr 1 is so ingrained that when I extended his bedtime routine by bringing him downstairs to watch a stage performance, he watched for 10 minutes and then put his head on my shoulder and asked me to bring him to bed. He loves his bedtime routine, and never complains about being put to bed. Wakes up at 6 plus, almost on the dot, occasionally waking up past 7 even though we open the door and windows. :P

He's very well behaved and learns well. Hamster Jr 2 is also already sleeping well through the night at 6 months, with one feed at 8pm, 1 at 11, and 1 at 6am. :)

10:10 am  
Blogger grace said...

i believe in sleeping early for kids too. my girls(18mths, 6mths) sleeps ard 7pm, wakes ard 6.30-7am.

not only it gives me me-time but sleep makes them less cranky and clingy. heh.

11:54 am  
Blogger tscd said...

Hamster: Isn't it wonderful when they sleep through the night?

grace: Yes! The me-time is definitely important for the sanity.

4:24 pm  
Anonymous Hamster said...

IT IS AMAZING. 'Nuff said.

11:15 am  
Blogger crystal b. said...

I want you to know that I admire the way you are parenting your little one. I am not familiar with Susanna Wesley, but I have to say that she is right. My children are teenagers now, but when they were little their bedtime was 8:000. They were great sleepers and very well behaved. I think that have a routiene and getting enough sleep is a big reason why. I also agree with the rule about obedience. You live with what you create when they are little. If you want children who respect you and themselves, you need to be the one to teach that.

You are a wise mother.

5:29 am  
Blogger tscd said...

crystal b: Thank you for the validation. I always wonder if I'm being a reasonable mummy and it's nice to know that other people are doing the same thing.

9:19 am  

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