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Do you find you have to wake up your children for school multiple times before they actually get out of bed? Do they complain they’re tired throughout the day? Do they need to catch up on sleep on weekends? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your kids might not be getting enough sleep.
Since proper sleep is so essential to our well-being, especially for our growing kids, we’re here to help you know how much sleep kids should be getting, signs they may not be getting enough, ways to help them sleep better and when to talk to your pediatrician.
How Much Sleep Do Children Need?
Based on their age and individual needs, these are the recommendations for how many hours your child should sleep, including naps. The first number is the bare minimum, but some children need the maximum to function at their best.
- Infants: 12 to 16 hours
- Toddlers: 11 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers: 10 to 13 hours
- Elementary school children: 9 to 12 hours
- Teens: 8 to 10 hours
Because many of our children’s schedules are bursting at the seams with homework, social and extracurricular activities, it’s easy to assume they simply have less time for sleep. In reality, the busier they are means that the recommended amount of sleep is needed even more for optimal health.
Signs of Sleep Deprivation in Children
The signs of sleep deprivation are different in children than they are in adults. Symptoms to look for include hyperactivity and difficulty paying attention. They may not be performing at their best at school and misbehave. They can have mood swings, show anger, impulsivity, lack of motivation and signs of depression.
Struggling to get out of bed in the morning, complaining of fatigue and wanting to sleep extra when they can are sure signs they need more, better quality sleep.
How You Can Help Your Child Sleep Better
Here are some easy tips to help your children get into a better sleep routine:
- Aim for a bedtime that allows the recommended number of hours of sleep based on your kids’ age group(s). If they aren’t getting into bed on time, make bedtime 15 – 20 minutes earlier every few days.
- Set a regular sleep schedule. Their bedtime and wake-up time shouldn’t exceed a 45-minute difference on weekends.
- No matter their age, create a consistent and calming bedtime routine that gets their minds and bodies ready for sleep.
- Turn off electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine and sugar, especially in the second half of the day.
- Make sure they’re getting enough physical activity into their day with at least one hour of physical activity.
- Set a good example by making sleep a priority for yourself.
When to See Your Pediatrician
These are some signs that it’s time to make a doctor’s appointment:
- Bedwetting that continues past age 7
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Fear surrounding sleep
- Frequent, unexplained nighttime awakenings
- Loud, disruptive snoring
At AdventHealth, we want to see every child happy, healthy and whole. We’re here for your children through each age and stage. If you find sleep is difficult for them, they are showing these signs or you just want to learn more about optimal sleep, our pediatric primary care team is here to help your family get better quality rest.