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Sweet Dreams: Is Your Child Sleeping Enough?

ByJerni Camposano-GomezMay 25, 2023
While it’s a pity nap times are not celebrated when you’re an adult (sigh, we feel the same way, mama), sleep should be a priority for our younger ones. Sleep plays an important role in their growth and development. Your child’s body produces growth hormone when they’re asleep. Getting much-needed ZZZs also boosts their immunity and aids in learning, concentration, and memory. It promotes better physical and emotional health and well-being.
So how much sleep is enough?
It depends on how old your child is. Children from different age groups need different amounts of sleep. Their sleep patterns also vary as they grow older.
As a guide, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend the following hours of sleep for each age group to promote their optimal health:
Your Child’s Age Group Age How Much Sleep Should Your Child Have Per 24 Hours
Infant 4 to 12 months 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
Toddler 1 to 2 years old 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
Pre-schooler 3 to 5 years old 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
School-Age Child 6 to 12 years old 9 to 12 hours
Teenager 13 to 18 years old 8 to 10 hours
What happens when your child does not get enough sleep?
Because sleep directly impacts their growth and development, having fewer of it than the recommended number of hours may result in children experiencing health and behavioral issues. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “insufficient sleep also increases the risk of accidents, injuries, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and depression.”
A sleeping baby is the new happy hour, and we couldn’t agree more. But what if your newborn isn’t sleeping through the night and their sleep pattern is erratic? That means no good night’s rest as well for the already sleep-deprived mama. If you lack sleep and energy, it will also affect how you take care of your little one.
What are the effects of insufficient sleep in teenagers?
Older kids experience changes in their internal body clock during adolescence, so teenagers often want to hit the sack later at night (or even at midnight). Unfortunately, they need to get up early in the morning to attend school. This results in “sleep debt” that can later lead to chronic sleep deprivation. Some teens also spend too much time on their gadgets, which also results in delayed bedtime.
Because adolescence is a period when these kids undergo significant changes in their life, sleep is very important during this time to help them be at their best selves. They need 8 to 10 hours of good quality sleep to help them think, focus, and function well.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine warns that “insufficient sleep in teenagers is associated with increased risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts.” They will also most likely struggle in their studies, perform poorly in physical activities, and show a lack of interest in social interactions.
How can you make sure your child is getting enough shut-eye?
Now that you know the benefits of sleep and the dangers of not having enough of it, mamas should ensure that their little ones are getting the recommended number of hours of good quality sleep.
To ensure they are getting enough sleep, here are some tips:
Have a regular sleep pattern and a consistent pre-bedtime routine. Keep this pattern even on weekends and holidays so their body clock gets used to it. A routine—it can be eating snacks and drinking milk, brushing teeth, or reading bedtime stories—will help them settle and prepare for their travel to dreamland. Avoid exercise a few hours before bedtime.
Create a conducive sleep environment. Their bedroom should be quiet, dark, and comfortable. If possible, this space should only be used solely for sleeping—the study and play areas should be in a separate room.
Shut off the screens. It’s more difficult for children to shut down and go to sleep when there are a television and electronic devices (phones and tablets) in the room. Remove these sleep stealers a few hours before bedtime.
Keep naps early and short for older children. Naps can keep your Energizer Bunny of a child from being overtired. But try to keep the nap short and no later than early afternoon so it won’t be too hard for your child to fall asleep come nighttime.
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