Am I cheating my kid out of sleep?

Writer Tara-Michelle Ziniuk responds to the latest study on sleep schedules for kids — and wonders how her daughter may be affected.

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Photo: iStockphoto

Follow along as the Today’s Parent team shares their thoughts on the latest news in the parenting world.

It seems like sleep discussions are all the rage these days. In my apartment, my daughter’s refusal to sleep is causing me rage.

Earlier this week, ABC News reported that irregular bedtime schedules for kids may affect their school test scores later in life. While researchers saw a correlation between the two, that’s all they can say for now. To me, this study just seems like another set-up to start fights between parents.

My daughter Anna was a great sleeper as a newborn. That soon came to an end. I had read all the books, I did all the sleep training; it worked. That ended, too. Apparently, good sleep habits are possible to unlearn. She wouldn’t be up all night screaming — she was just having parties, telling stories, and nursing (back when she did that.) For months she would only sleep on my chest. For other months she’d wake up between four and six a.m. on most days.

It got better. A combination of daycare and a set schedule (we do a lot of activities, go to a lot of events and are pretty social) eventually meant Anna was tired enough that she stopped resisting sleep. This May, she and I were between apartments and sublet a friends’ room for the month. We shared a bed and she got used to me being there while she fell asleep and into the night.

Read more: Should you co-sleep? >

By June 1, after our second move in two months, her schedule was a wreck. While she’d been falling asleep just fine, our schedules had shifted to fit our new realities: my internship at Today’s Parent and her daycare being across town from each other — and our temporary apartment being between them. I was trying to make sure we still ate right, saw friends and spent time together. The sun was staying up later. And the further into spring and summer we got, the later we were staying up too.

The New York Times recently published a piece on their parenting blog, The Motherlode, asking if people were “cheating their kids out of summer sleep.” Is my toddler getting 12-14 hours of sleep per night? Definitely not.

I fluctuate between thinking that if this is my one real difficulty with my daughter — she’s a good eater, mostly fun to be around and has excelled in many ways so far — than maybe I should just suck it up. It means I can still take her out to dinners, be at the park when it’s not crowded and have impromptu ice-cream adventures.

On the other hand, I could also shower more regularly, respond to more emails and read a book before the summer is through. There is certainly something to be said for that too.

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