New sleep guidelines published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine on Monday outline how much sleep is necessary for children based on their age.
Researchers from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine released their sleep duration recommendations for kids between four months and 18 years of age:
- Infants 4 to 12 months — 12 to 16 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 1 to 2 years — 11 to 14 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 3 to 5 years — 10 to 13 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 6 to 12 years — 9 to 12 hours of sleep every 24 hours
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years — 8 to 10 hours of sleep every 24 hours
The study said that results for infants under four months old are not included because of the wide variations in sleep duration and patterns at that age.
The recommendations haven’t changed much in the past year. Last February, the National Sleep Foundation released a report on sleep guidelines that are similar to the new study’s findings, give or take a few hours. See that study's findings here.
According to the report, sleep is associated with attention span, behaviour, learning, memory, emotional regulation and mental and physical health. These factors can be affected by too much or too little sleep.
Insufficient sleep can increase the risk of accidents and injuries, and it can contribute to depression, obesity and diabetes. Teenagers who don’t get enough sleep are also more likely to have suicidal thoughts, to self-harm and to attempt suicide.
The American Academy of Pediatrics agreed, adding that screens should be shut off half an hour before bed, and that TVs and computers should be kept out of children’s bedrooms.
The Huffington Post Canada’s resident parenting expert Alyson Schafer reported earlier this year that losing even an hour of sleep can be damaging to a child.
"A tired sixth grade pupil performs like he is in grade 4."
“Recent sleep research indicates a one hour difference in sleep results in a performance gap of two full grades! In other words, a tired sixth grade pupil performs like he is in grade 4,” she said.
Schafer explained that children could be getting less sleep for socio-cultural reasons such as extracurricular activities, more homework and lack of proper sleep training.
She suggested that establishing a consistent “wind-down routine” is important and that having a dark, cool room will help kids get a proper night’s sleep.
The new report suggests that parents who are concerned that their child is not getting enough sleep should contact their healthcare provider for additional evaluation.
Also on HuffPost:
Babies often fuss in the night. Keen parents hear their baby fussing on the baby monitor and jump out of bed to respond. The reality is that many babies make noise and fuss without being fully awake. Parents often unwittingly rouse their sleeping baby by checking on them. Instead: Wait until you are convinced that they are awake before responding.
It's wonderful for a baby to have a soothing sleep prop or ritual to help ease them into sleep. However, because nursing or rocking a baby to sleep is so common, your baby might easily develop a dependency on you to perform these actions in order to fall asleep. It’s better for children to learn their own self-soothing methods. Instead: Soothe your baby until they look very sleepy, then place them down to sleep awake.
Who hasn't taken a crying baby into their bed just to get a good night’s sleep? Babies learn that if they cry long enough you might just let them sleep with you, which means your one-night solution creates more nights of tears. Instead: As exhausted as you are, it’s better to make and stick to a sleep training plan than to cave into your own exhaustion.
We associate good sleep with being cozy and warm and we assume children are afraid of the dark and need quiet. In fact, the human brain needs certain conditions to help it enter and stay in its sleep cycle: a) Dark room (try black out curtains) b) Cool room (a drop in body temperature helps melatonin production) c) White noise (infants have been listening to their mothers heartbeat in utero for months, so white noise is more comforting than silence)
Because babies spend so much time sleeping, parents often wait too long before beginning evening tuck-ins. Instead: Make a baby tuck in routine. Here is an example: bath, sleepers, diming the lights, evening feed in the same chair, singing the same song, rubbing their back while the crib mobile plays the same song, kiss and leave. The brain learns to recognize this pattern, anticipates sleep is coming, begins producing melatonin, and brain wave activity starts to shift towards REM sleep.
When our babies wake in the night it can be a challenge to get them back to sleep. Frustrated parents can become so awake themselves that they decide to turn on the TV, cook a meal, do some laundry and make the best of it. The light and noise of the TV, along with all that activity, make it harder for a baby to distinguish day from night. Just the exposure to light alone arouses their brains to a more wakeful state. Instead: Keep at it. If you have to do something to pass the time yourself, try listening to music on headphones or reading to regular light rather than the light emitted from screens or phones.