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February 15, 2017

Is your child getting enough sleep?

Child sleeping blissfully

Every living creature needs sleep, but how much sleep a being needs can vary wildly.

On any given day, koala bears may spend as little as two hours awake, whereas giraffes may spend as little as five minutes asleep. And some birds fly while dozing. Across the board, animals sleep because it makes them more efficient, and this is true of human animals.

At different ages we require different amounts of sleep. In general, babies sleep more than children, and children generally sleep more than adults.

The real question is, what is the optimal amount of sleep?

The National Sleep Foundation released the results of a world-class study that took more than two years of research to complete – an update to our most-cited guidelines on how much sleep you really need at each age.

According to the study, children and teens that don’t get the recommended levels of sleep are at greater risk for obesity, diabetes, depression, behavior and learning problems, hypertension, and more.

For teens, the picture darkens – there’s an increased risk of suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and self-harm, according to the report.

Newborns: 0-3 months

recommended newborn sleep time

During the early months, newborns sleep around the clock, interrupting the cycle only to be fed, changed, and nurtured. Their sleep may last a few minutes or several hours. Babies are more likely to fall asleep quickly and learn to get themselves to sleep if they’re put to bed when they’re sleepy, but not asleep.

Newborns can even be encouraged to sleep less during the day through exposure to light, noise, and play, then as the evening approaches the environment can be dimmer, quieter, and less active.

Infants: 4-11 months

recommended infant sleep time

 Infants 4-11 months should sleep for 12 to 15 hours out of every 24, including naps. Secure infants who are attached to their caregiver may have fewer problems with sleeping, but many issues can affect sleep. Illness and increased motor development may disrupt sleep, and some infants may begin to experience separation anxiety. 

Toddlers: 1-2 years

Recommended toddler sleep time

Toddlers need about 11 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. After 18 months, nap times will decrease to once a day and last one to three hours. Naps should not occur too close to bedtime as they may delay sleep at night.

Many toddlers resist going to bed and wake up during the night. Add to this their newfound ability to get out of bed, the need for autonomy and the development of the child's imagination, and this is a critical time in sleep development. Daytime sleepiness and behavior problems may signal poor sleep or a sleep problem.

Pre-school: 3-5 years  

Recommended  preschool age sleep time

Preschoolers typically sleep 11 to 13 hours each night and most do not nap after five years of age. As with toddlers, difficulty falling asleep and waking up during the night are common. With further development of imagination, preschoolers commonly experience nighttime fears and nightmares. In addition, sleepwalking and sleep terrors may peak during preschool years.

 School Age: 6-13 years

Recommended school age sleep time

 Children aged 6-13 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep. During these years, increasing demands on their time from school, sports and other extracurricular activities can cut into their sleep. In addition, school-aged children become more interested in TV, computers, the media and Internet, and even caffeine products – all of which can lead to difficulty falling asleep, nightmares and disruptions to their sleep.

Teenager: 14-17 years

Recommended Teenage sleep time

Your child is sleep-deprived if she/he:

  • Falls asleep within 15 to 30 minutes
  • Doesn't wake easily from his sleep
  • Not alert throughout the day
  • Often falls asleep in the car?
  • Seems irritable, very emotional, aggressive or hyperactive during the day

Some tips that can help your child get that much-needed rest:

  • Pick a natural bedtime when your child gets physically tired and begins to slow down.
  • Create a consistent, simple bedtime ritual. Include quiet activities such as a song, a story, a bath and calm, quiet cuddling. End the routine with turning the lights down and saying, “goodnight.”
  • Set a regular sleep schedule. Your child's bedtime and wake up time shouldn't vary by more than 30 to 45 minutes between weeknights and weekends.
  • Be consistent and firm about the purpose of bedtime. Bedtime is for lying in the bed and falling asleep.
  • Use bedtime as an enjoyable, resting, cuddling and sleeping time, never as punishment.
  • Use dim lights for sleeping times and brighter lights during awake times.
  • As with many habits, it's essential to set a good example by making sleep a priority for yourself.

Conclusion:

Make your child’s bedtime, and bedroom, the ideal environment for sleep. You’ll be rewarded for life.

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