Tips for Helping Your Child Sleep Better
Sleep, everyone needs it, but most don’t get enough. According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 70 percent of children under age 10 experience some type of sleep problem. While child sleep needs vary by age, close to 80 percent of 11-17 year olds get less than the recommended amount of sleep.
Change is in order. Sleep is essential for maintaining optimal health. Think about it. Busy days, even lazy days, require sleep to maximize immune support as well as boost physical and brain development. Here are some tips to help your child get the right amount of sleep for their body.
How Much Sleep is Enough?
The amount of sleep a child requires varies by their age and the child’s own unique needs. While one child may need 11 hours of sleep per night, another may only require 9. It is important to pay attention to cues in their behavior and adjust sleep time accordingly. Here are some age appropriate averages to help understand how much sleep your child should have daily.
- Birth through 6 months: 18 hours per day (divided equally throughout a 24 hour period)
- 6-12 months: 14 hours per day (2 to 3 naps included lasting 30 minutes to 2 hours each)
- Toddlers: 12-14 hours per day (1-3 hour naps included)
- Preschoolers: 11-12 hours per night (naps may not be necessary and can be replaced with quiet time)
- School-Age Kids and Preteens: 10-11 hours per night
- Teens: 9 hours per night
The Keep Them Awake Theory
A common misconception is that by keeping a young child awake, they will sleep better at night. The truth is, kids have a harder time sleeping when they are overtired. If your child is fighting naptime, don’t force it. Instead have them take some quiet time to rest in their room.
School-Age Sleep Trouble
Many school-age kids run into sleep problems because of the added stressors in their busy lives. Sleep deprived kids are prone to becoming hyperactive and irritable. Not getting enough sleep can cause behavioral problems such as ADHD as well as negatively impacting their ability to learn in school. It is essential that a consistent bedtime remain in place. Limit or avoid caffeinated products, especially in the evening. Turn off all electronics at least one hour prior to bedtime and if possible, avoid placing a TV or computer in their bedroom.
The good news is that most child sleep problems are easily prevented and treated. The key, however, is to find a solution to sleep problems as early as possible to prevent negative habits from forming.
If you or your child is experiencing consistent difficulty sleeping, give us a call to schedule an appointment with one of our providers. While the majority of sleep problems are benign, in rare occasions there may be other issues at play. Our goal is to help you and your family live the healthiest life possible, and sleep is an essential part of that.