Good Night, Sleep Tight

The Importance Of Sleep For Children

by WakeMed Physician Practices - Pediatrics // April - May - June 2019

Every part of the body benefits from sleep. Our tissues, brain, heart, and muscles all need enough rest to rejuvenate themselves each day and function properly. The amount of sleep you need varies based on your age.

For adults, getting enough sleep means six to eight hours per day. Teens often need about nine hours of sleep each day, while babies, toddlers, and children need even more because they are still growing. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the recommended amount of sleep a child should get, based on age, is:
– Infants under 1 year: 12 – 16 hours;
– Children 1 – 2 years old: 11 – 14 hours;
– Children 3 – 5 years old: 10 – 13 hours;
– Children 6 – 12 years old: 9 – 12 hours;
– Teenagers 13 – 18 years old: 8 – 10 hours.

How To Develop Healthier Habits

– Make sleep a family priority. Set a good example by not only making sure your child gets to bed at the right time, but also ensuring that you put yourself to bed at a decent hour.
– Be consistent. Maintain a healthy routine, including waking time, meal times, nap times, play times, homework time, etc. Have a nighttime routine that involves changing for bed, brushing teeth, and maybe some light reading before turning the lights off. Having a routine schedule adds consistency and helps children feel more secure and comfortable and will help ease them into a smooth bedtime routine as well.
– Monitor screen time. The AAP recommends keeping all screens – TVs, laptops, tablets, cell phones – out of children’s bedrooms, especially at night. Prevent issues with sleep by shutting off all electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime. It may be beneficial to create a family media use plan to help you and your children set healthy boundaries about screen time before bed. This includes you too, parents!
– Avoid overscheduling. Depending on the age of your child, he/she may have homework in addition to other afterschool activities (i.e. sports, music lessons, appointments, etc.). All of these may create challenges when it comes to winding down at bedtime. Remember that kids need extra downtime in order to relax and prepare for bed. Scale back on certain activities and be mindful of how busy your child’s day is. Always allow for downtime before bed to ensure that your child gets the rest that he/she needs.
– Pay attention to your child’s behavior. If you notice that your child’s grades have dropped, he or she is getting into trouble at school, is falling asleep in class, or is acting out in other ways – it may be due to a lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep. Speak to your child’s teacher to address any issues that may be going on at school. You may also want to discuss your child’s sleep habits with your pediatrician, as most sleep issues are easily treated. Your doctor may be able to offer additional suggestions to help improve his or her sleeping habits.

WakeMed Physician Practices - Pediatrics

Provides primary medical care to children ages newborn to 18 years, treating a variety of services and diagnoses. Adults sleep medicine services are offered at WakeMed, including obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, as well as at the WakeMed Cary Hospital Sleep Center.