Begin With Sleep: How Much Does Your Child Need?

Like most people, we all need and crave sleep in. This month is Sleep Awareness Month, a particularly fitting time to remind everyone about the value and purpose of sleep and the consequences of not getting the correct amount. So how much does your child really need? 

child sleeping

The Purpose Of Sleep

We spend about one third of our lives sleeping and scientists agree that it serves a number of vital purposes. Just as we need food to nourish our bodies, we need sleep to feed our brains. Proper sleep aids in restoring, rejuvenating and repairing both the body and the mind.

Recommended Amounts Of Sleep For The Whole Family

The National Sleep Foundation working with the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others, has updated the official recommendations for how much sleep is appropriate through life.

  • 14-17 hours a day for newborns 0-3 months
  • 12-15 hours for infants 4-11 months
  • 11-14 hours for toddlers 1-2 years old
  • 10-13 hours for preschoolers 3-5 years old
  • 8-11 hours for school age children 6-13 years old
  • 8-10 hours for teens 14-17 years old
  • 7-9 hours for young adults 18-25 years old

Consequences Of Being Sleep Deprived

When children and teens “burn the candle at both ends,” inadequate sleep can affect cognitive abilities and general health.

No matter how old we are, if we begin the day without enough sleep, it affects focus, productivity, and energy levels. Daytime drowsiness can be a real problem for a teenage driver.

Lack of sleep can also:

  • Increase stress
  • Reduce the amount of energy needed for daily tasks
  • Affect motivation
  • Make us short-tempered and irritable, especially young children
  • Cloud judgement
  • Cause mistakes at home, work or school
  • Reduce productivity and efficiency
  • Lead to serious health issues and is linked to cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes in adults.

Time To Begin With Sleep

So exactly where do you begin?

Keep your children on a consistent sleep schedule no matter the season.

Take away devices from children and limit TV before bedtime.  Parents can lead by example and close the laptop and tablet.. The blue light emitted from devices keeps children and adults awake longer since it interferes with natural sleep inducing melatonin. If teens must use their computer at night, turn down the screen light.

Anxiety and stress can also cause sleep issues in children and teens. If you notice poor sleep patterns, speak to your child about the causes.

Additionally, both children and adults should spend some time outdoors during the day. Try to work near a window as this helps release melatonin as dusk approaches.   

Life is complicated with thousands of distractions and devices to interfere with our sleep, so it’s up to you to help begin the healthy sleeping pattern. 

Sleep Guidance for Children at Kids First Pediatrics

If you have questions regarding your child’s sleep patterns, please call to schedule an appointment with our pediatrician today. Kids First Pediatrics has three convenient locations throughout Fayetteville and Raeford.