How much sleep do children need?Written by Shashikala Gowda
How much sleep do children need?
As parents we all know that growing children need good sleep, but many of us don't know just how many hours children require, and what impact lack of sleep can have on them. There is scientific evidence to show babies, children, and teens need significantly more sleep than adults to support their rapid mental and physical development. Children who do not get enough sleep are at risk for wide range of mental and physical problems.
The American Academy of Pediatrics in conjunction with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, recommends on how much sleep children need (including naps) at different ages and stages of development:
- Infants 4 to 12 months - 12 to 16 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
- Children 1 to 2 years - 11 to 14 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
- Children 3 to 5 years - 10 to 13 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
- Children 6 to 12 years - 9 to 12 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
- Teens 13 to 18 years - 8 to 10 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
Regular sleep deprivation often leads to difficult behavior and health problems such as obesity, headaches, hypertension, inattention, irritability and depression. When children get their required hours of sleep for their age on a daily basis, they thrive well with better behavior, better learning, memory, emotional health and overall quality of life.
Therefore we encourage parents to ensure their children develop good sleep habits right from the beginning. Be a role model to your child. Making sleep a priority for yourself shows your child that it is part of living a healthy lifestyle just like eating right and exercising regularly. Try and stick to a healthy sleep routine. Create a sleep supportive environment with dim lights and right temperature just before bedtime. Keep the bed free of toys and gadgets. Do not put your baby to bed with bottle of milk or juice in it. Do not start solid food earlier than six months of age because it can disrupt the sleep due to tummy ache. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all screens be turned off at least thirty minute before bedtime and suggests keeping televisions, computers, smart phones and other screens out of children’s bedrooms.
Recognize sleep problems such as snoring, difficulty falling asleep, resisting going to bed, breathing difficulties during sleep and day time tiredness. Talk to the teacher about your child’s behavior, level of attention, alertness and learning at School. It is recommended that you talk to your Paediatrician about your child’s sleep habit s and problems if you recognize any.
Contributed by Dr. Shashikala Gowda, Paediatrician UHWI