If the Kansas City Royals game Monday night in the American League Championship Series is not canceled by rainy weather, parents may have some decisions to make about kids staying up late to watch the games.
The Royals and Orioles start right after 7 p.m., and even a 9-inning game is unlikely to be done by 10 p.m. Unlike the first two games, games 3 and 4 are on a school night. How do you handle the confrontation and what are the implications of your kids losing sleep?
Martye Barnard, a behavioral psychologist at The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., said it is important for parents to establish the ground rules on homework and bedtime before the game begins.
Barnard said first make sure all homework is completed. She said she hopes teachers will recognize the special circumstances and lessen assignments, but regardless the work must be done first.
Next, Barnard said set the time for bedtime and make the children get into their bed clothes with baths done before sitting to watch the game.
Finally, Barnard advised parents to remember they are in charge and to hold steady on their rules, no matter how exciting the game.
So, what is the downside of kids staying up later?
Bob Whitman, director of the sleep lab at The University of Kansas Hospital, said much depends on the age of the child.
Whitman offers these guidelines:
• Children 3 to 6 years old need 10 to 12 hours of sleep
• Children 7-12 years old need 10-11 hours of sleep
• Children 13-18 years old need 8 to 9 hours sleep
Whitman said keeping kids up late for a couple of nights in a row will affect the students in the classroom.
Whitman said the issue is not students falling asleep in class, but their attention span, response time, creativity and even behavior if they lack sleep.
Even if kids stay up to watch the game or go to the game, Whitman advised it is important to have some wind down time immediately after the game to help the students get to sleep. That means not watching highlights or locker room interviews that will keep everyone’s adrenalin pumping.
Whitman noted adults are generally better at handling life with less sleep because they don’t need as much.
However, Whitman admitted he has stayed up to watch all the playoff games so far, and he was very tired the next day.
To see a KU Hospital video on this topic, visit http://www.kumed.com/newsroom/news/royals-late-games-school-nights.
-Story and video from KU Hospital