Why a Sleep Schedule is Important for Kids
Sleep is important for all of us, and kids are no exception. Sticking to a schedule and getting the proper amount of sleep can be difficult. Let’s look at how much sleep is needed, and how you can achieve that goal.
How much sleep do kids need?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) provides helpful guidelines regarding how much sleep children need at different ages and stages in development. The numbers below reflect total sleep hours in a 24-hour period. If your child is still napping, take that into account when you add up their typical sleep hours.
Infants: 4 to 12 months – 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
Toddlers: 1 to 2 years – 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
Preschoolers: 3 to 5 years – 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
Grade-schoolers: 6 to 12 years – 9 to 12 hours
Teens: 13 to 18 years – 8 to 10 hours
Sleep varies from child to child, but elementary school children need about 9 to 12 hours of sleep every night. If a child is just starting school or switching from half days to full days, they may need more sleep or need an earlier bedtime. For children, sleep deprivation can cause behavioral problems, difficulty concentrating, irritability, headaches and mood changes. Set a wake-up time that allows your child enough time to get dressed and eat a healthy breakfast without having to rush out the door. Enforce a bedtime routine that allows your child to get an appropriate amount of sleep.
Starting a Sleep Routine
A summer sleep routine may be different from their sleep routine during the school year. Decide what their sleep schedule needs are for the school year and start adjusting their routine a few weeks before the first day of school. Keep adjusting their bedtime gradually until you’re at the desired schedule.
Maintaining a Sleep Routine
Here are a few tips and tricks to get your kids to stick to healthy sleeping habits:
- Make sleeping a priority for the whole family. Educate your child on the importance of sleep and how it affects their health. Set an example by having the entire family, including yourself, prioritize sleep.
- Set a daily routine! Having a consistent routine throughout the day helps your child feel comfortable and safe, which includes breakfast, dinner, playtime and bedtime.
- Stay physically active during the day. Ensure your kids are getting enough physical activity during the day and avoid anything strenuous exercise after dinner.
- Turn off all screens at least one hour before bedtime. It’s important to limit screen time. Take televisions, computers, tablets and other electronic devices out of your child’s bedroom.
- Sleep environments are important! Make sure your child’s bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. Sounds machines also help with noise reduction. Minimize stuffed animals and toys that may be in your child’s bed. Too many distractions or brightness may make it feel like a place to play rather than sleep.
- Regular sleep schedules and bedtime routines are so important. Stick with your child’s sleep schedule, even on weekends. Help your child relax before bed with a routine that lasts 30-45 minutes, giving them time to wind down. This can include brushing teeth, a bath, bedtime or reading time.
It’s important for children to get enough sleep. We know it can be difficult at times, but sleep helps them function and feel their best. Call your child’s doctor about their sleep habits and any trouble they may be having. Many problems are easily treated. Our physicians can also give suggestions for improving your child’s sleep habits.