The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: How Much Sleep Should Your Children Get?

Monday, July 18, 2011

How Much Sleep Should Your Children Get?

At around 2-3 months, the average infant begins to sleep through the night, giving their fatigued parents a much-welcomed rest.  For the next 18 years, the parents and their children will battle for control of the sleep cycle, sometimes causing clashes between the two age groups.  The younger ones will want to stay up later, while the parents will want them in bed for some "us time."  If you establish a regular bedtime for your children (usually around 8:00 pm) and don't mind getting up a bit earlier than the birds, you will achieve your goal.  However, if you're not a morning person, you might want to let your little ones stay up as long as you're up so you can "sleep in" the next morning.  During the school year, however, it's important that your children get the recommended amount of sleep, so you'll need to count backwards from the time you must get them up to get them out on time.  Here are the professional recommendations:
  • 3-11 months:  9-12 hours during the night and 30-minute to two-hour naps, one to four times a day – fewer as they reach age one.
  • 1-3 years: 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. When they reach about 18 months of age their naptimes will decrease to once a day lasting about one to three hours in the afternoon. Naps should not occur too close to bedtime as they may delay sleep at night.
  • 3-5 years: 11-13 hours each night and most do not nap after five years of age.
  • 5-12 years: 10-11 hours of sleep each night.  Sometimes children of this age will make up for less sleep during the week by sleeping longer on the weekends.  This is not as desirable as getting the same amount of sleep each night.
  • Teens: 8.5 - 9.5 hours of sleep each night.  Teens are the least likely group to get enough sleep each night due to the many and varied demands on their time.  From The National Sleep Foundation, here are a few of the risks to a sleep-deprived teenager:
    • Increased risk of injury or accident, particularly when driving
    • Lowered grades and poor school performance
    • Emotional and behavioral problems, such as negative mood
    • Increased stimulant use (particularly caffeine and nicotine), alcohol use and use of similar substances
No matter what age your child, the amount of sleep she gets is directly related to her health and well-being. And naturally, if your child is sick, the amount of sleep she needs increases by several hours. If your child is having trouble sleeping, consult a sleep expert for professional assistance.

Happy Parenting!

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