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How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?
What Happens When A Child Does Not Sleep Enough
“Sleep is a vital asset for a child’s health and overall development, learning and safety,” says Richard L. Gelula, National Sleep Foundation’s chief executive officer. “Many children are not sleeping enough and many experience sleep problems. What is troublesome is that the problems start in infancy.”
Sleep is crucial to the overall success of any child. A child must receive the optimal amount of sleep in order for his/her body to thrive. The National Sleep Association states that without the proper amount of sleep, children can develop the following conditions:
- Emotional instability- Lack of sleep can raise the levels of certain hormones associated with depression and anxiety. This can make children prone to the feelings of sadness, anger, fatigue and anxiety.
- Lack of concentration- Sleep deprivation leads to the inability to concentrate and focus. It becomes hard to process new information and retrieve vital information previously learned.
- Weight issues- Studies of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found children who do not sleep enough have a 92% chance of developing childhood obesity. Researchers stated that every 1 extra hour of sleep obtained by a child can reduce the risk of obesity by 9%. Obese and overweight children have a fatty tissue layer around the neck, which restricts the flow of air leading to sleep apnea and other sleep problems.
- Risk of developing diabetes- Even two hours reduction in sleep or acute sleep loss is associated with inflammation of cytokines, a condition known to cause insulin resistance that develops diabetes.
- ADHD- A research study made at the University of Michigan revealed that sleep disorders like snoring, sleep apnea and others cause attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
- Difficulty at school- Lack of sufficient sleep can cause difficulty at school. The National Sleep Association found that if a child misses 2 to 3 hours of sleep every night for a week, he/she significantly faces performance and mood problems.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Newborns (0-2 months)
Infants (3-11 months)
Toddlers (1-3 years)
Preschoolers (3-5 years)
School-age children (5-10 years)
Teens (10-17 years)
According to the National Sleep Foundation, does your child sleep enough?
What Are The Signs That A Child Is Not Getting Enough Sleep
It is extremely difficult to know if your children are getting enough sleep unless you stand inside their bedrooms and observe your children the entire night. However, there are certain signs to look for that indicate a lack of sleep. Here are a few signs to look for:
- Your child has a difficult time waking up in the morning.
- Often falls asleep during car rides.
- Appears overly emotional.
- Has difficulty concentrating in school or other events.
- Appears hyperactive.
What You Can Do
The world is moving at a rapid pace. There is always something that needs to be done, something that cannot wait. Soccer practice, play-dates, dance class- it feels like there is no extra time during the day. The secret is to make time. I know, I know...it is easier said than done, but as parents/caregivers we need to attempt to model the importance of sleep and how this vital part of the day leads to a person's overall health. Our children's happiness depends on good sleeping habits. Even adults, with less than 8 hours of sleep, feels the effects of sleep deprivation. No amount of coffee can completely curb that slightly irritable mood waiting below the surface. It's there, even on your best 3-hours-of-sleep days.
As a family you can model together certain routines that will regulate better sleep patterns. The National Sleep Association recommends the following:
- Maintain consistent sleep schedules, even during busy weekends. Establish a bedtime routine such as brushing teeth, washing face, putting on pajamas, reading a book and then turning off the lights. Encouraging a child to fall asleep independently will help the child become a "self-soother." This important skill will help children be able to fall asleep without assistance when they wake up during the night.
- Maintain appropriate bedtimes and wake times.
- Restrict the amount of time a child is on the computer or sitting in front of the television.
- Eliminate caffeine from child's diet.
- Discuss your child's sleep routine with your child's doctor, even if you have no concerns. Your doctor may recommend a different sleep schedule (Nurse.com).
The National Sleep Foundation website (www.sleepfoundation.org) offers excellent tools to achieve the best sleep patterns. The website provides a diary you can download to help track your child's sleep and the effects of their unique sleep routines. These forms can also be brought to your child's pediatrician to ensure quality of care.
Why Kids Need Their Sleep
“Parents lay the groundwork for healthful living and sleep is a significant factor in healthful living.”-Arlene Smaldone, RN, DNSc, CPNP, CDE, assistant professor, Columbia University School of Nursing
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