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.
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