Does letting children share rooms impact their sleep?
Many of us grew up sharing a bedroom with a sibling. When we look back on it, it’s often with fond memories of shared experiences and time spent together. But what does it do for a child’s sleep?
Here we’ll take a look, as well as running through some of the other pros and cons.
The impact on sleep
When we sleep, we do so in cycles, with each cycle consisting of four different stages. As children age, the number of hours they need decreases, therefore decreasing the number of cycles required for quality sleep.
The amount of sleep recommended by the Sleep Council for children is as follows;
- 1 – 12 months old: 14 – 15 hours per day
- 1 – 3 years old: 12 – 14 hours per day
- 3 – 6 years old: 10 – 12 hours per day
- 7 – 12 years old: 10 – 11 hours per day
- 12 – 18 years old: 8 – 9 hours per day
When children within the same recommended bracket – say both between the ages of one and three – share a room they should be on similar sleep patterns and shouldn’t necessarily interrupt or hinder each other’s sleep.
The problems may arise when the children vary in age and have different sleep cycles, requirements and needs. For example, a toddler may need an afternoon nap while a slightly older child may want to play with their toys in the room at this time.
This is where sleep can become interrupted, potentially affecting the child.
But it’s not just about the negatives. Specifically, children of a similar age may find comfort in their sibling being in the same room as them and will actually sleep better when sharing a room. This especially applies to children that suffer with any anxiety issues.
For parents, it’s important to look at the sleep needed for each of the children and how sharing with a sibling could impact this, positively or negatively.
Is there anything else parents should consider?
There are plenty of other factors to consider when evaluating whether children should be sharing a bedroom.
On the plus side, these include:
- Siblings that share a bedroom are thought to develop a close emotional bond throughout childhood and later life
- Sharing a room helps each of the children to develop social skills
- Often siblings will be more likely to learn to share their possessions and shouldn’t become possessive over toys or things they believe to be theirs and theirs only
These positives should always be weighed up with the following drawbacks:
- Privacy is extremely important – especially as siblings of the opposite sex grow up
- Whilst children may not become possessive over certain things, a lack of ownership of possessions can potentially encourage a lack of respect for the space – this can be hard to get them to maintain a tidy room
- Even if your kids are the same sex and close in age, they won’t necessarily be the same or have similar personalities – friction and arguments could become a regular thing
- More mischievous siblings may encourage bad behaviour or negatively impact the other’s sleeping patterns if they’re refusing to go to bed for example
- Siblings may view time away from mum and dad at night as the perfect time for fun and games and night-time playing – to avoid this, it’s important to draw a line between day and night activities and ensure toys are out of easy reach
All kids are different, and what works for some may not for others. The best advice for parents is to evaluate all the plus and minus points in the context of your kids’ individual personalities. You’ll then be able to decide what’s best for them.