Healthy Sleep In Children

childrenSleep is very important for children. Getting enough sleep is essential for your child’s growth and health.


Studies show that many children do not get enough sleep each night.


Here are the recommended amounts of sleep in general for each age:

  • New born: 12 to 16 hours total in short sleeping periods. Before 3 months, babies’ sleep patterns may not follow day and night yet since they are still developing an internal clock
  • Infants, toddlers & preschoolers: 11 to 14 hours, including naps
  • School-age children (kindergarteners to 8th graders): 9 to 10 hours
  • 9th-10th grade: 9.25 hours
  • 11th-12th grade: 8.5 hours


Does your child need more sleep?

If your child exhibits the following behaviours, he or she might need more sleep.


Difficulty getting up in the morning: If you have trouble waking your child every morning, he or she may not be getting enough sleep.


Falling asleep during school: If your child’s teacher tells you that your child is falling asleep during class, your child may need more sleep.


Acting out/Hyperactivity: Children may also be more active when they’re sleepy. They can have problems getting along with others and paying attention.


Consequences of not sleeping enough include:

  • Poor school performance. A lack of sleep can cause problems with memory, concentration and problem solving. Children’s grades often improve when they are getting enough sleep
  • Height and weight. Children who don’t get enough sleep can have problems growing and may have trouble achieving a healthy weight.


Sleep disorders in children
Sometimes your child may not be getting enough sleep due to a sleeping disorder. One of the most common sleep disorders in children is Obstructive Sleep Apnea.


Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder. In someone with OSA, the airway collapses part or all of the way while sleeping. Oxygen flow to the brain is decreased, and the individual may wake up multiple times during the night.


Signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Night sweats
  • Mouth-breathing
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restless sleeping


Risk factors for OSA in children include:

  • Having enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Being overweight
  • Having certain genetic or neuromascular disorders


How is Obstructive Sleep Apnea treated?
If your child’s OSA is caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids, then surgery is often recommended. Children may also be treated with Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) devices that they can wear while they sleep.


There are other sleep disorders that can affect children, like Restless Legs Syndrome or Narcolepsy.


Speak with your child’s health care provider if you think that your child might have OSA or another sleep disorder.


Tips to help your child sleep:

Teach your child about the importance of sleep. If your child understands that sleep is important, you can work together to improve his or her sleep. Try to model good sleep habits for yourself.


Do not give your child caffeine. Giving your child caffeinated beverages, like soda, can negatively affect his or her sleep.


Create a soothing routine. A routine can help your child get ready for bed. Try adding some elements like bath time or reading a story. Studies show that children who have a bedtime routine wake up fewer times during the night.


Keep devices out of the bedroom. The light from televisions, computers, cell phones or video game devices can prevent your child from sleeping. Its best to keep these devices out of the bedroom to help your child fall asleep.


Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake time. Have a regular bedtime and wake up time for your child, including on weekends and during vacations. Make sure that the bedtime is early enough that your child gets the recommended amount of sleep.


If your child is still having trouble sleeping after trying these tips, talk to your child’s health care provider.



SOURCE: The American Academy Of Sleep Medicine. (brochure)






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