Back to School: Are Your Kids Getting Enough Sleep?

August 12, 2016

back to school sleepNighttime fireworks shows, long stays at summer camp, family vacations and the late sunsets of summertime are some of the many joys your child may have experienced during their summer vacation. But getting to take part in these fun-filled moments over the past few months may also mean your child was allowed to have some later bedtimes than normal. Now that school is back in session, you may be wondering how these late bedtimes over the summer are going to impact your child during the school year. A good night's sleep is vitally important for children of all ages, and now that they are back in school, it's even more important that you are enforcing bedtimes that will allow your children to get their much-needed rest before it's time to wake up for school. Find out how much sleep is recommended for your child, and how you can help them get the right amount every single night.

How much sleep does my child actually need?

According to the guidelines set out by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, children need a range of 8 to 16 hours of sleep each night depending on their age. This is, on average, more sleep than the average adult needs in the same 24-hour period. Ever wondered why your child or teen sleeps in so late on weekends?  It's because your child may actually need up to four more hours of sleep than you do. How much sleep does your child need to promote optimal health?

  • Infants ages 4 to 12 months should be getting 12 to 16 hours of sleep per 24 hours (including naps).
  • Children ages 1 to 2 years should be getting 11 to 14 hours of sleep per 24 hours (including naps).
  • Children ages 3 to 5 years should be getting 10 to 13 hours of sleep per 24 hours (including naps).
  • Children ages 6 to 12 years should be getting 9 to 12 hours of sleep per 24 hours.
  • Teenagers ages 13 to 18 years should be getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep per 24 hours.

By following these guidelines, you are ensuring that your child will not only have better health, but do better in school as well. Insufficient sleep in children is associated with:

  • Attention, behavioral and learning problems,
  • An increased risk of accidents and injuries,
  • An increased risk of hypertension, obesity and diabetes,
  • An increased risk of depression,
  • And an increased risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in teenagers.

Getting enough sleep

These sleep guidelines for children work best when used with regularity. It's important to make sure that they are getting enough sleep every night, and that the sleep is of good quality. Healthy sleep isn't just about getting the recommended amount — there are many factors that can impact your child's ability to get a good night's rest. Follow these tips on how to help your child get the right amount of healthy sleep on a daily basis:

  • Set a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends.
  • Don't let your child sleep more than the recommended amount — this can cause adverse health affects similar to getting too little sleep.
  • Avoid looking at phone, computer or tablet screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime. These bright lights can confuse your natural circadian rhythm.
  • Find a relaxing bedtime ritual such as reading a story, and remember to avoid bright screens.
  • Make sure your child is sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillow, and that the room is cool, quiet and dark.
  • Make sure your child is getting daily exercise and avoiding food and drink with caffeine or added sugar.

By giving your child the best sleep possible, they're sure to have a happy, healthy year ahead. And for the rest of your back-to-school health needs, be sure to visit your local AFC Urgent Care for physicals, immunizations and more.

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