Obtaining enough sleep is essential for a child’s emotional, physical and academic well-being. Studies have shown that nearly one-fourth of American children are affected in one way or another by inadequate sleep. That’s nearly 15 million children. This can impact the child in many ways from mood, to school performance or social behavior.
As adults, it’s up to us to make sure children — despite their frequent objections — get enough sleep each day. In the same way we make sure they get to and from school and have three square meals each day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children obtain as much sleep as possible, with the amount needed decreasing as they get older. Newborns, for example, require 15 to 18 hours of sleep a day, while those from 1 to 12 months should get 14 to 15 hours. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 should get 12 to 14 hours of sleep, while children 3 to 6 need 10 to 12 hours.
As children enter school, this often means that naps are no longer part of their daily routine. Children ages 7-12 should get at least 10 to 11 hours of quality sleep each night while teens, ages 12-18, need eight to nine hours.
An AAP study showed that sleep problems have a negative relationship with daytime behavior. Specifically, children with sleep problems had more internalizing and externalizing behavior problems and poorer adaptive skill development. The study also showed that children with moderate-to-severe sleep problems had greater behavior difficulties — but not necessarily poorer adaptive functioning ¬— than children with mild to moderate sleep problems.
There are many ways to ensure children get a peaceful and restful night’s sleep. Some of these include keeping a set bedtime for both weekdays and weekends, limiting TV, playing video games or on the computer the hour prior to bedtime. Reduce the number of caffeinated drinks during the day; encourage them to sleep in their own bed each night and helping them relax by reading to them or giving them a bath prior to bedtime.
HealthCare Partners recommends keeping a semblance of regular sleep patterns. This is especially important for younger children. This way, when school resumes, getting them back into a nightly routine will be that much easier.