How Much Sleep Do Children Need – Guidelines for Parents
With the advent of digital devices, children’s sleep hours have become erratic and keeping a tab on those has become more than necessary. Many parents keep wondering how much sleep do kids need and if their child has had enough sleep since most children are a bundle of energy whether they have slept the required amount or not. Irrespective of how they behave, it is necessary for kids to get a specific number of hours of sleep for healthy physical and mental growth.
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Benefits of Adequate Sleep for Kids
Here are some undeniable benefits of a good night’s sleep for kids.
1. Physical Growth
Medical research has revealed that the growth hormone in our bodies is highly active when we are in deep sleep.
2. Mental Development
Even when we are asleep, another part of the brain continues to work in the background, keeping things organized, protecting memories, storing information for long-term retrieval. This is necessary for the brain to operate optimally.
3. Strengthening the Immunity System
With children, the better sleep they get, the stronger their immune system becomes in fighting away the usual illnesses of a cough and cold and other infections, too.
4. Alertness and Vigilance
A good sleep reduces lethargy in the day and keeps one alert, allowing you to function to the best of your ability.
5. Reduces Mental Problems
6. Emotional Stability
When your child has had a good night’s sleep, they will rarely be cranky through the day and be upbeat and excited to go to school and explore around.
7. Energy Recharge
Relaxation is key to re-energizing the body. With a good sleep, your body produces glycogen which provides the energy and helps you live the next day actively and happily.
8. Weight Regulation
Obesity has been directly linked to lack of sleep. This is primarily because lack of sleep might lead to lethargy and exhaustion through the day, preventing any physical activity. This consequently leads to putting on weight.
How Many Hours of Sleep Do Children Need?
Recommended sleep for children varies from age to age. Therefore, you need to ensure that your child is getting the right amount of sleep that’s adequate for his age.
|Recommended sleep (for a period of 24 hours)
|4 months to 12 months
|12 to 16 hours
|1 and 2 years
|11 to 14 hours
|3 to 5 years
|10 to 13 hours
|6 to 12 years
|9 to 12 hours
|13 to 18 years
|8 to 10 hours
12 Tips to Help Your Child Get Sufficient Sleep
Here are some tips for parents to ensure kids get enough sleep.
- Prioritize Sufficient Sleep on a Family Level
Rather than advising your children to sleep well, make it a habit that the entire family has to follow. Make sleeping well on time a habit just like brushing your teeth or taking a bath.
- Set a Daily Routine
Fixed times for general activities will help children feel secure that they are on track. Waking up at the same time, eating at the same time, taking a nap, playing outside, all these activities when scheduled at fix times, help the body to set itself in a rhythm as well. For sleeping, establish a routine such as brushing your teeth, reading a book, and then heading for the bed. This preps the body into a sleep mode and has less trouble falling asleep.
- Active Daytimes
The sleep at night will be relaxing and satisfying when the day is filled with a variety of interesting activities. Ensure that your children get a lot of physical activity, outdoor time, and exercise to come back home in the evening and wind down.
- Strict Device Usage Policies
Ensure there are no devices inside your kid’s bedrooms. If your child wants to use digital devices, keep a restricted time limit on the usage and ban all screens after a specified time at night.
- Sleep Supportive Environment
Nobody likes to sleep in a noisy fully-lit room. Keep the lights minimal and low as bedtime approaches. Keep the bedrooms minimal without any distraction. A safe calm place in the bedroom is conducive to falling asleep easily.
- Age-Specific Sleep Requirements
As your child grows, their adequate sleep times might increase and so will their daily responsibilities in school. Therefore, it is necessary to track whether they get adequate sleep and time to complete their activities as well.
- Avoid Baby Food before Sleep
Feeding juice, milk, formula or anything else can cause it to stay present in the baby’s mouth throughout sleep and lead to decayed teeth. Once you are done with the feeding, put them down and, at most, keep a bottle of water if needed.
- No solids before 6 Months of Age
Solid food needs extra energy to be digested. In a baby less than 6 months old, their body takes extra time to digest the food and can sometimes lead to stomach ache. This may cause them to awaken in the middle of the night and fail to get the required amount of deep sleep that’s essential for growth.
- No Overscheduling
Reduce the number of activities your child commits to towards the evening. Allow for some downtime that helps calm down.
- Recognize Sleep Problems
Be aware of children awakening in the middle of the night, snoring or breathing heavily while sleeping. Nip these problems in the bud.
- Check on Day Alertness
Have a word with your child’s teacher to get an idea of how alert they are through the day. If they nod off in class, they are probably not getting enough sleep.
- Check with Your Doctor
Discuss any sleep problems your child has with your doctor. They might suggest treatments or ask you to observe their habits further.
Sleep is the single most activity required by any human being in their entire lifetime. And with children, it contributes to their growth like nothing else. By ensuring a good and healthy sleep, their future is ensured to be healthy and energetic as well.