Is Your Child Sleeping Like a Lark or an Owl?

There are two types of people in the world: larks and owls. No, this isn’t a quiz you have to take to assess what type of bird you are. This is about your child’s sleeping habits and how you can help them be productive- both at school and at home.

The Larks

Larks are songbirds, often awake at the break of day. In old tales, the singing of the lark was used to denote the start of the day, much like a rooster crowing. That is why larks are also known as ‘early birds’.

Someone who is a lark is a morning person. This does not mean that people who must get up early as part of their job or work are morning people. The key is that larks enjoy waking up early in the morning and usually go to bed early in the evening.

The Owls

By contrast, owls, also called ‘night owls’ will stay up late, as their name suggests. Like larks, this does not include people who have to stay up late because they have work to do.

Teens and kids are increasingly turning into night owls. Technology plays a big role in this as they stay up late watching TV or playing computer games instead of going to bed.  

There are other children that fall in-between the two categories (sometimes known as ‘hummingbirds), leaning towards one or the other.

Why is Sleep Important?

You should note that there is no exact period for sleep as every child is different. The day’s activities will influence how tired your child is, so they won’t sleep and wake up at the same time every day.

The National Sleep Foundation however, recommends giving your child between nine to eleven hours of sleep. In any case, make sure your child gets at least eight hours of sleep so they can function properly the next day. Hours aren’t the only factor, though. They need to be in bed between the hours 12 midnight to 4 am. Most experts suggest a sleep schedule from 10 pm to 6 am.

Sleep deprivation is a serious issue among children and teens. Dr. Timothy Roehrs, who is the Director of Research at the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, USA found that sleep plays a part in decision making. You cannot allow your child to lose sleep and then allow them to ‘catch up’ on weekends.

Kids that go to bed early and wake up early are healthier than those who sleep late and wake up late. Of course, due to hectic days and school work, this may not always be possible. Also, waking up your child early allows them to start the day at a more leisurely pace.

Set an Early Bedtime  

There are things that you can do to ensure your child goes to bed earlier. For one, you can have early dinner. Avoid discussing stressful topics with the child right before bedtime. This can play on their minds and cause them to lose sleep.

Do not let your child gaze at bright screens in the dark or late at night because this will strain their eyes. Soothing music helps put children to sleep and no loud music or noises before bedtime because it will affect their ears negatively.

You should experiment with different sleep times to see what fits. If the child wakes up earlier than intended, make them sleep later. Likewise, if they won’t get up when you want, send them to bed quicker. Once you find out the best hours, maintain it for as long as possible.

Avoid Coercion

The early bird catches the worm, but the early worm gets eaten. Having your child be a lark is ideal, but their health is far more important. So, do not to force your child to wake up early. Just like sleeping late will drain your child of energy, so will enforcing an early wake-up time. In both cases, the child is missing out on crucial hours of rest.

It all depends on the child’s internal clock or circadian rhythm. So, avoid blaming the child for his or her natural qualities.

Be sure to follow these tips and not underestimate the power sleep has over your child. If you can’t turn them into a lark, at least prevent them from becoming an owl. Teach your child why they need adequate rest and the benefits of waking up early.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”


Let’s Practise Can Help

If you want more information and need help getting your child to focus and do well in school, contact us.

Now, it’s time for bed. Good night!