I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nurse. I’m not in a medical-related professional of any kind. I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. That said, before I try to emphasize how important a good night sleep is to a child, let me first state that the thoughts I’m about to share are a mixture of research, opinion, and common sense. Good to have that off my chest. Now let’s get started:
Over the past five years I have helped build over 1,000 beds. I have also personally delivered hundreds of beds to children in need. Many of these children were sleeping on couches, or air mattresses. Many others were sharing beds with parents and multiple siblings. And, unfortunately, many of those children were sleeping directly on the floor. When it comes to the sleeping conditions of children, at this point I feel like I have seen it all.
What Happens When Kids Get a Bed of Their Own?
Because I have dedicated a significant portion of my life over the past five years to helping kids get into beds of their own, I have often wondered just what type of an impact we are leaving with these bed recipients. To better educate myself on this topic, I turned to the most reliable, accurate and educated source I know: Google.
And that’s when this project took an unexpected turn. Let me explain.
The Trouble with Finding Data
My first Google search was simple: ‘Impact of Children Sleeping on the Floor.’ My expectations were to find articles and studies showing how damaging not sleeping in a bed would be for a child. What I found, however, was something entirely different. There were articles about co-sleeping between parents and newborns, benefits of having your baby sleep on the floor, whether parents should have their children share a room, and even a study on whether the height of your bed matters. But nothing on the negative impact sleeping on the floor has on a child. Okay…bad google search. It happens. So, I gave it another whirl.
My next few Google searches went something like this: ‘sleeping on the floor health,’ ‘kids without beds,’ ‘kids without beds health,’ and finally, ‘kids sleep health.’ Obviously, I’m no Google-Jedi, so it should come as no surprise that those searches yielded similar results to my first Google search—results that were focused on co-sleeping, children sharing bedrooms, the ideal height of a child’s bed, etc.
But the last search, ‘kids sleep health,’ held a nice little gem found in the search menu just a few options below which medicines help kids sleep the best. It was here that I discovered the National Sleep Foundation has been conducting studies on the importance of children getting their sleep. Finally.
The Necessity of Good Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s web page, whether a child gets an adequate amount of sleep has direct impact to their overall physical and mental development. The site goes on to list all the health benefits tied to sleep and the absolute necessity for a child to maintain good, consistent sleep habits. Specifically, the site mentioned that maintaining a regular sleep schedule, having a relaxing bedtime routine that ends in the room where the child sleeps, and sleeping in the same cool, dark, quiet, TV-free environment every night would help curve mood swings, behavioral problems, and cognitive issues that impact their ability to learn in school.
It was eye opening to me, both as a father and as a dedicated member of the charity Sleep in Heavenly Peace, that the environment a child sleeps in can have such a lasting impact on his/her overall physical and mental health. Though having a bed wasn’t specifically mentioned, I know what the conditions look like when a child doesn’t have a bed, and those conditions never foster the healthy sleep environment mentioned on the National Sleep Foundations site.
No Data, But the Impact is Obvious
I was thrilled to find this information, but I was also surprised at the overall lack of readily available research tied to the importance of children sleeping in their own beds. It was a blunt realization regarding how important the Sleep in Heavenly Peace charity/movement is to the children in our communities.
But understanding that something as simple as a soft, warm bed can have a direct impact on a child’s overall mental and physical health isn’t enough. To my knowledge there are painfully few options out there for parent who find themselves in a difficult situation to provide beds for their children. Most agencies, government/state/non-profit, are designed to sustain life with food, shelter, healthcare, etc. But which agency is helping provide a bed for a child sleeping on a floor?
At Sleep in Heavenly Peace, we openly recognize we don’t have all the answers regarding the best way to help children in need. But what we know how to do, organize groups of volunteers in our communities to build and deliver beds to children, we do incredibly well.
What's the easiest way you can help? If you jump over to our store, you can buy a t-shirt or a hat where 100% of the proceeds help a child. Or you can simply sponsor a pillow, bedding, or even an entire bed or bunk.