I noticed a trend lately. The topic of children and sleep has bubbled to the surface in print, social media and recent conversations with parents. I’m not sure, if as a society, we are more aware of the benefits of sleep or if this is by chance. After reading articles and research, one thing is for sure…sleep is very important to a child’s social, emotional and academic development.
Last year, the Washington Post published an article citing studies that suggest a strong link between the length, timing and quality of sleep with behaviors. Evidence also suggests a growing number of children suffer from insufficient sleep, insomnia, and obstructed breathing. “As a result, they fall asleep later and get less sleep overall, with consequences for other body processes,” stated Ariana Eunjung Cha, the author of the article. “When the body’s natural rhythms are disturbed, it can lead to inattentiveness, irritability and challenging behavior,” concluded Eunjung Cha.
After reviewing several articles on the suggested amount of sleep for children, I found the most helpful information on sleep.org. According to this source:
Rule #1: Know how much shuteye your kid needs
As a parent, determine when bedtime should be, don’t leave this up to the child. General guidelines to follow are:
- Toddlers: (EC and PK) need a total of 11 to 14 hours of sleep, split between nighttime sleeping and daytime naps.
- Pre-schoolers: (JK and SK) should get 10 to 13 hours of sleep daily, including naps.
- Grade-schoolers: (Grades 1-6) need nine to 12 hours of sleep each night.
- Teens: may try to convince you otherwise but require almost as much sleep as their younger siblings—eight to 10 hours each night.
Rule #2: Keep the same bedtime.
Kids sleep better when they have a regular bedtime, and the routine prepares their bodies for bed, so they can fall asleep faster.
Rule #3: Create a ritual.
Establishing a calming, pre-bed routine for a child at a young age will help set the stage for better sleep and fewer middle-of-the-night awakenings. Running through the same activities every evening sends a cue to the brain that it’s time for sleep.
Over the years, I’ve developed this sense of knowing when children haven’t had a good night’s sleep; often their eyes are the indicator. Parents share the difficulties with bedtime and the frustration that can surround it. Seek professional help when necessary. And remember…all of us feel better when we have a good night’s sleep, even adults!
All the best,