Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

Sleep is really important for health. Sleep is important for preventing obesity: a study just released in the journal Pediatrics showed that children who got less sleep than the average were more likely to be overweight, and it’s not the first study to show a link between sleep and cardiovascular health. Inadequate sleep is also linked to behavioral, learning, and mental health problems such as – Increased risk of diabetes and heart problems, Increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse and decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information

Here is the amount of sleep recommended in a 24-hour day for children based on their ages –

  • Newborns (0-2 months): 12-18 hours
  • Infants (3-11 months): 14-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-3 years): 12-14 hours
  • Preschool (3-5 years): 11-13 hours
  • School-age (5-10 years): 10-11 hours
  • Teens (11-17 years): 8.5-9.5 hours
  • Adults (18 and over): 8-9 hours

These are just guidelines everyone will need a little more and a little less.

#1: Watch for signs that your child isn’t getting enough sleep. If your child is happy and energetic, things are likely fine. However, if they are consistently cranky, acting sleepy, or less energetic, especially if they are on the lower end of the recommended hours, it may mean that they need more sleep. If your child snores, please tell your doctor! If breathing is blocked during sleep, it’s not good and may prevent restful sleep no matter how long you’re in bed. It can also lead to health problems.

#2: Make sure you are doing everything you can to promote good sleep and good sleep habits.

#3: Have a regular bedtime. This makes a huge difference. Don’t vary it much on weekends or vacations; consistency is best for good sleep.

#4: Have a regular, and calming, bedtime routine. Think warm bath or shower, quiet time, reading, etc.

#5: Beware of TV. Besides the fact that it is distracting, and we stay awake to watch more of it, the blue light it emits actually can activate the brain and make us more awake. So don’t make TV part of the bedtime routine, and please keep it out of the bedroom!

#6: Have a quiet, dark, and cool sleeping environment. Consider room darkening curtains. Keep the noise and light in the household down after children go to bed, too. (I remember lying awake many hours as a child listening to my parents talk, play music, or watch TV).

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