The average human spends one-third of their life sleeping. Sleep is essential for our overall well-being and physical and mental health. So you would think, that our children would be hardwired to want to sleep. But you would be WRONG.
As any parent knows, getting your child to GO to sleep and STAY asleep can be challenging. However, kids need adequate sleep in order to grow, learn, and be healthy. So just how much sleep do kids need?
Well, it depends.
Sleep Requirements Based On Age
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), the amount of sleep a child needs varies depending on their age. In June 2016, they published their recommendations in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. These guidelines have also been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Sleep requirements range from 8 hours up to 16 hours per day.
Infants, Toddlers, And Children:
Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including 2 – 3 naps) on a regular basis.
Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including 1 – 2 naps) on a regular basis.
Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including 1 nap) on a regular basis.
Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis.
As for infants less than 4 months old? Newborns may sleep up to 18 hours a day, often in 2 to 3-hour stretches (if you’re lucky).
Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis.
It’s important to remember that these are guidelines. Sleep needs will vary from one child to the next. One 2-year old may need 14 hours of sleep per day, while another one may only require 11 hours.
Genetic, behavioral, environmental, and medical factors can all affect how many hours of sleep your child actually needs. Growth spurts and activity levels also influence sleep needs.
The Importance of Sleep
Our bodies need sleep to thrive. Sleep directly impacts everything from our mental wellbeing to our physical health. Getting enough sleep is crucial for our motor, cognitive, and social functioning. And this is especially true for our children. Sleep is a critical part of their brain and body development.
Too little sleep can affect growth and weaken the immune system. It has been linked to diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
In addition to physical ramifications, there are mental ones as well. Sleep deprivation can affect behavior and result in temper tantrums and mood swings. Oftentimes, lying beneath that terrible 2-year-old, threenager, or fournado, is a child in desperate need of a good night’s sleep.
Want the happiest toddler on the block? Make sure he’s getting his shut-eye.
But it’s not just toddlers that need their sleep. According to a study of 49,050 children between the ages of 6 and 17, researchers found that “insufficient sleep is associated with physical and mental health consequences including increased risk of depression and obesity and negative effects on mood, attention, and academic performance.”
In addition, a number of studies have linked adolescent substance abuse with an ongoing lack of sufficient sleep.
It’s clear that sleep deprivation is no joke and the consequences? Can be serious.
Tips And Tricks To Help Your Child Get The Sleep He Needs
Our lives are busy. Between work, school, homework, and extra-curricular activities, it’s no wonder that our kids struggle with not getting enough sleep.
However, there are ways that we can help our children get the 40 winks they need to flourish.
Routine, routine, routine.
Set up a regular bedtime routine, and stick to it. Begin winding things down an hour before bedtime. Engage in quieter activities, such as reading, talking, or listening to soothing music. Trying to go from 100 mph to 0 doesn’t happen within a few seconds. It takes time for a child’s mind and body to ratchet down and reach a point where he is ready for sleep.
Take a warm bath.
Baths help to relax the body which, in turn, can help your child sleep better. But it’s not just the bath itself that can lead to sleepiness. Stepping out of a warm bath into cooler air decreases the body’s temperature, signaling that it is time to slow down.
Keep the bedroom cool.
You can skip the warm bath and head straight into a cool room. A cool room can have the same effect on the body as climbing out of a warm bath. The cooler air lowers the body’s temperature, brings on drowsiness, and aids in the production of Melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Invest in blackout curtains.
Melatonin is also known as “the darkness hormone,” and for good reason. It is triggered by the onset of night-time. As darkness falls, melatonin rises. But in the middle of summer, when the sun doesn’t set until after 10 pm, melatonin can take its sweet time. However, you can simulate the dark by using blackout curtains and trick your child’s body into thinking that it’s time for night-nights.
Use a white noise machine.
Sometimes it can be difficult to fall asleep if it is too quiet. Or alternatively, if there is too much noise. White noise machines can mask the sounds of everyday living or fill the silence by simulating soothing sounds. They can also trigger a conditioned sleep response in babies and children.
White noise is made by combining sounds of all different frequencies together. It can sound like a fan or an air conditioner.
Some machines also have the option to play relaxing nature sounds, including birds, ocean waves, rain, wind, and flowing water. Others, specifically created for infants, include gentle lullabies and a beating heart.
Turn off technology.
This is by far the MOST important factor when it comes to bringing on sleep. According to sleep experts, at least. They recommend that all devices be shut off at least one hour prior to bedtime. This “digital sunset” allows for children’s brains and eyes to wind down and prepare for sleep.
How much sleep your kid gets can have long-lasting effects. Not just physically but mentally as well. The earlier you can help to instill good sleep habits, the better the night’s sleep for everyone.