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August 29, 2013

The No Sleepover

by Hansa Bhargava, MD

The other day, a friend came over with her son for a playdate. Our kids got along so well that at one point she said, “Let’s do a sleepover on Friday.”  I was about to agree but then stopped mid-sentence.

I thought to myself, if my 7-year-old son has a sleepover on Friday, he will be tired the rest of the weekend and probably on Monday — the first day of school.

Now, we parents know that a sleepover really is a “wakeover.” No one really gets any sleep; the kids end up staying up most of the night and then waking up really early.

“So what?” you may wonder. “What’s the big deal?”

As a pediatrician, during this time of the year I get asked, “How do I prepare my child to go back to school?” And a key answer is sleep. Sleep is often overlooked as a nice to do, not a need to do. Lack of sleep has been linked with acting out at school, irritability, and even depression. A recent study found that even 27 extra minutes of sleep made kids less impulsive and more focused at school. In addition, lack of sleep can make people choose junk foods and can cause unhealthy weight gain.

So that day, although my friend may have thought I was a wet rag, I graciously declined the sleepover idea. And my son got a good night’s sleep that Friday and Saturday, and was alert and happy the day school started.

Have you ever said no to a sleepover? If so, why?

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