Children And Sleep: How much sleep do children need? Update 07/2024

Getting enough sleep is critical for your child’s overall well-being. But if you’re finding it impossible to help your toddler sleep, you’re not alone. It is estimated by the American Academy of Pediatrics that 25 to 50 percent of children and 40 percent of adolescents are affected by sleep disorders.

The first step in helping your children sleep better is gaining an understanding of what those needs are. Sleep hygiene, age-appropriate habits, and careful attention to any sleep disorders can help your child get the rest he or she needs to grow up healthy and strong.

Why Is Sleep Important For Children?

Sleep is essential for the growth of children’s brains. Getting enough sleep has been shown to have a positive impact on a variety of cognitive functions, mood, resilience, learning and memory capacity, and even happiness. Sleep has a significant impact on growth as well, especially in the first few months of a child’s life. Napping appears to be essential for toddlers’ memory consolidation, executive attention, and motor skills development.

What Happens When Children Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

When a youngster is sleep-deprived, their moods might swing from irritable to hyperactive, which can look like symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on your child’s ability to focus, which can have a negative impact on their academic achievement. Even the tiniest amount of sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on your child’s life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) estimates that one-quarter of all children under the age of five do not receive enough sleep at night. Poor sleep in early childhood has been related to allergic rhinitis and immune system issues, as well as anxiety and depression, and this is cause for great concern. Poor sleep in childhood has also been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure in adulthood.

Adolescents’ academic performance and mental health can suffer if they don’t get enough sleep. All three of the major medical organizations in the United States including the American Academy of Pediatrics believe that chronic sleep deprivation in teens is a public health issue that must be addressed. Addictions, as well as more immediate dangers like vehicle accidents and sports injuries, can be exacerbated by a lack of social support.

Tips on How To Make Sure Your Child Gets a Full Night’s Sleep

Even though your child’s sleep requirements alter as he or she gets older, research shows that maintaining a regular bedtime routine is essential in ensuring that your child gets adequate rest, regardless of age. Whatever you decide to do, make an effort to do it in the same order each day so your child is familiar with the routine.

A typical bedtime ritual may involve the following:

  • Eliminating the use of electronic devices with screens that emit bright light
  • Changing into PJs and brushing teeth before going to bed
  • Singing a lullaby, reading a light book, or taking a relaxing bath are all excellent options.
  • Preparing a child for bedtime by giving them a cuddly toy or a teddy bear

Putting your child to bed while they’re sleepy is the optimum time to do so, rather than after they’ve already fallen asleep. As they get older, they will be able to sleep on their own. Take preschoolers back to their beds if they wake up in the middle of the night. Co-sleeping raises the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, thus it’s preferable to avoid it.

Sleep Hygiene Tips for Kids

Sleep is also affected by our daytime routines. You can help your children get a good night’s sleep by adhering to a few simple sleep hygiene rules:

  • Creating a timetable that includes regular breaks and time to relax and have fun
  • The importance of establishing a regular time for retiring
  • Even during the day, the bedroom should be a no-screen zone, including the mattress.
  • ensuring a nutritious diet for the family
  • Lowering the thermostat by a few degrees
  • A nightlight if they’re afraid of the dark, or dark drapes to keep out light.
  • Using a white noise machine to mute outside noises in the bedroom
  • Avoid coffee, heavy meals, and sugary snacks before bedtime, and if necessary, having a healthy evening snack.

Do not fall into the trap of tired your child in order to make them sleep better at night. It is crucial to provide your child with regular exercise. As a result, they are more likely to be exhausted and have difficulty sleeping. When your child reaches a certain degree of hyperactivity, it’s time to put them to bed so that things don’t get out of hand.

Creating a sleep routine can be more difficult than it appears. Bedtime may necessitate more planning for families with two parents or for siblings who share a room. If you’re having difficulties getting your child to sleep, the National Sleep Foundation has a list of additional sleep tactics.

Sleep tips for babies: Very young babies rarely sleep through the night due to the lack of a circadian rhythm in their bodies. This is perfectly normal. Speak softly and gently, but don’t pick them up if they don’t go asleep on their own. If they cry on and on, it’s possible they’re hungry or their diaper needs to be changed. Resolve the issue quickly and softly, if possible solely using a nightlight, and then silently exit the room.

Sleep tips for toddlers: Two daily naps help young toddlers maintain a regular sleep schedule. Separation anxiety and the dread of being left out exacerbate sleep issues in toddlers, leading to stalling tactics and intransigence at bedtime. By allowing your children to make simple decisions, such as what pajamas to wear or what book to read, you can reduce the number of complaints you receive. As a result of power battles, you should try to be patient, firm, and loving.

Sleep tips for school kids: School-age children generally have busy schedules that make it difficult to get a decent night’s sleep due to academic, social, and extracurricular activities. Whenever possible, try to stick to a regular routine and allow yourself some time to relax before going to sleep. If at all possible, keep children out of the bedroom while they do their homework or other tasks to reinforce the connection between the bedroom and sleep.

Sleep tips for teenagers: Late school start times might be a concern for teenagers because their circadian rhythms are more advanced. Your teenager’s increased demands on their time necessitate that you and they work together to find a sleep schedule that works for both of you. For the most part, teens mimic their parents when it comes to sleeping, so the best thing you can do for them is to follow your example.

The first few hours of the day are just as important. Even though it’s tempting to let your kids sleep in on the weekends, doing so can throw off their sleep schedules and make it more difficult to wake up in the middle of the week for school. If you notice that extracurricular activities are affecting your child’s ability to get a good night’s sleep, avoid overscheduling them.

If your child is still tired or has difficulty falling or staying asleep at night, it may be time to contact a doctor to see if they have a sleep disorder. Your child’s teacher may also be able to help keep you apprised of their levels of concentration. It’s possible that sleep deprivation is the cause of their inability to focus, hyperactivity, or academic difficulties.

Sleep Problems in Children

Even seemingly insignificant occurrences can have a substantial impact on a child’s sleep, including the arrival of a new sibling, teething, illness, moving to a new location, meeting a new caregiver, or even minor ailments like allergies, colds, and ear infections.

Apart from this, as many as half of all youngsters experience sleep disturbances at some point. The relationship between sleep difficulties and mental and physical health issues is complex, and it can be difficult to break the cycle. Diagnostically speaking, it might be difficult to distinguish between certain sleep disorders and other ailments like epilepsy because the symptoms of some sleep disorders aren’t obvious to the sufferer.

Pediatric sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome are two of the most frequent conditions that affect children. Night terrors are also a typical problem for youngsters.

Night Terrors and Nightmares

Young children, who have a difficult time discriminating between what is real and what is not, often find nightmares terrifying. Nightmares frequently cause children to wake up, which is why REM sleep is so important for their development. If this occurs, reassure them and gently re-soothe them.

Approximately one-third of children suffer from night terrors or sleep terrors, a parasomnia that manifests itself in the early stages of non-REM sleep. It’s possible that your child has a night terror and thrashes around, but it’s unlikely that he or she will recall what happened the next day. If you can, keep your child in bed as much as possible to ensure their safety. Your pediatrician should be notified if your child suffers from frequent night terrors or if they cause excessive daytime sleepiness, so you should not disturb them or worry about waking them up.

Sleep Talking and Sleepwalking

Sleep talking is a typical form of parasomnia that involves making noises while you’re asleep. Proper sleep hygiene may help minimize the frequency of sleep talking, which occurs more frequently during light sleep. Sleep talking, while harmless in and of itself, can be a source of annoyance to those sharing the space with you. Sleepwalking and other forms of sleepwalking-related behavior have been linked to this condition in the past.

According to research, one-third of youngsters will sleepwalk before they turn 13, mainly during the preteen years. Sleepwalkers, like sleep talkers, aren’t aware of their surroundings and often have no recollection of what they did while they were awake. A person’s behaviors while sleepwalking, in addition to causing daytime tiredness, can have catastrophic ramifications. Safety-proof their room and put an alarm in their room if your youngster sleepwalks. It’s been found that waking a person 30 minutes before their typical sleepwalking episode happens is effective.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

It’s common for children to snore, just like adults. There are many possible causes of kid snoring, including swollen tonsils or adenoids; allergies; obesity; secondhand smoke; and other conditions. But if you see your child snoring excessively or having gaps in between breathing pauses, they may have sleep apnea and need to be evaluated.

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes children to wake up frequently during the night, often without their knowledge. Sleep deprivation symptoms like drowsiness, inability to concentrate, and hyperactivity are telltale signals that something is amiss in your child. It can be detrimental to your child’s health and a source of stress for the rest of the family if your child frequently snores or suffers from sleep apnea. Consult your child’s pediatrician for advice on how to manage symptoms.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome in children is characterized by an insatiable yearning to move one’s legs. Your child’s fidgeting or discomfort may lead you to believe he or she is experiencing growing pains. Proper sleep hygiene and stretching before bed are important components of the treatment of children with nighttime restless leg syndrome. Research into the safety and usefulness of iron supplements for children is ongoing, however, they have been found to be effective in treating adults.

The asleep diary is a great way to keep track of your child’s symptoms if you suspect he or she has one of these sleep disorders. In many of these cases, establishing appropriate sleep hygiene habits and minimizing sleep-related obstacles is the first line of defense.

Healthy Sleep Habits – Tips from the AAP

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports the AASM guidelines and encourages parents to ensure that their children develop good sleep habits from an early age.

  • Make sufficient sleep a family priority. Understand the importance of sleep and how it affects your and your children’s general health. Be mindful of the fact that you serve as a role model for your child. As a parent, staying up all night editing your teen’s paper isn’t the best way to show your child that you’re invested in their academic success. Sleeping well is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle, just like eating well and exercising regularly, so it’s important to make it a priority for yourself.
  • Keep to a regular daily routine. Make sure your child’s walking, eating, napping, and playing times are consistent so that your child will feel secure and comfortable and have an easier time going to sleep. A nighttime ritual, such as brushing teeth, reading a book, and going to sleep, is beneficial for children as young as three years old. Keep your child’s sleep routines portable so you can help them get to sleep wherever you are.
  • Be active during the day. Make sure your children are getting enough physical activity and exposure to natural light throughout the day. For further information, check out Energy: Daily Physical Activity Recommendations.
  • Monitor screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all screens—TVs, computers, laptops, tablets, and phones—should be kept out of children’s bedrooms, especially at night. Turn off all screens at least 60 minutes/1 hour before bedtime to avoid disrupting your sleep. Set limits on media use before night using a family media use plan.
  • Create a sleep-supportive and safe bedroom and home environment. Dim the lights and adjust the temperature in your home before going to sleep. Don’t cram too many toys into your child’s bed. Keep your child’s bed as a place to sleep, rather than a location to entertain them. Separation anxiety can be eased by having a few comfort items, such as a favorite doll or bear or a security blanket. You may find more particular information for babies under the age of 12 months by visiting Suitable Sleeping Sites.
  • Realize that teens require more sleep, Neither more, nor less can be said. With the onset of puberty, sleep-wake cycles begin to change by up to two hours. Most high schools are requiring kids to arrive at school earlier and earlier, which is a problem for many pupils. School start times for middle and high school students should be delayed until 8:30 a.m. or later, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. Adopting school start times that allow students to get the rest they need is a joint effort between parents and their local school districts that should not be overlooked. For more information, consult the AAP’s policy statement on school start times for adolescents.
  • Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle of juice, milk, or formula. It’s fine to drink water. Baby bottle teeth decay can be caused by anything other than pure water in the bottle. Put your baby down for the night after feeding or nursing him or her.
  • Don’t start giving solids before about 6 months of age. Early introduction of solid foods will not improve your baby’s ability to sleep well at night. Because of the discomfort caused by a stomachache, giving meals to your infant before his or her system is ready can actually make him or her sleep worse.
  • Avoid overscheduling. Because of extracurricular activities like sports games, lessons, and other commitments, it might be difficult for youngsters to obtain a good night’s sleep these days. Spend some quality time with your family and let them unwind.
  • Learn to recognize sleep problems. Snoring, procrastinating, and refusing to go to bed are some of the most prevalent sleep difficulties in children, as is trouble falling asleep and overnight awakenings, as well as sleep apnea and loud or heavy breathing while sleeping.
  • Talk to your child’s teacher or child care provider in regards to how awake your youngster is during the day. Daytime sleepiness can be a sign of a sleep disorder. A student’s ability to concentrate or “zone out” in class might be harmed by a lack of sleep or sleep of poor quality. Your child’s teacher should be informed of any reports of your child falling asleep in class or exhibiting any other negative behaviors.
  • Talk to your child’s pediatrician about sleep. Talk to your pediatrician about your child’s sleep habits and problems, as most sleep issues can be easily remedied. It is possible that he or she will urge you to keep a journal of your child’s sleep patterns or provide more advice on how to improve their sleep habits.

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