Sleep is a very important part of keeping our bodies and minds healthy and this is especially true for children. As we all start to get ready for the new school year, it is a great time for the whole family to create healthier sleeping habits.
So, how much sleep does your child need?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has set up guidelines for the recommended hours of sleep during a 24-hour period for children at different ages:
- Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
- Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
- Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
- Ages 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
- Ages 13-18 years: 8-10 hours
The transition from a summer to a school sleep schedule can take a couple of weeks, so give your child time to transition. Follow the helpful tips below to ensure your child gets the amount of sleep she needs for optimal growth and development:
- Stick with the same bedtime every evening. Creating an evening routine will help your child prepare for rest.
- Your child should avoid all TV and other electronic devices 30 minutes prior to bed. Books and music are a great way for children to relax.
- Make sure that your child is comfortable. Pajamas and blankets should not be restrictive and should be warm but not too hot.
- Adjust the light in your child’s room so that it is dark enough to create a relaxing environment.
- Avoid giving your child large meals, sugar and caffeine prior to bedtime. Omitting caffeine 6 hours prior to sleep will create a more restful experience.
- Ensure your child gets plenty of physical activity during the day. Exercise encourages healthy sleep patterns and make children more tired at night.
- Anxiety and stress can make it difficult for your child to fall asleep. Avoid potentially stressful situations before bedtime.
- If your child consistently having trouble at bedtime, talk to your pediatrician.
Establishing healthy sleep habits for your child now will help her to grow and have a lifetime of healthy sleep!
Child Life Specialist
St. David’s Children’s Hospital