Children and Sleep

Sleep is an important need and very much essential to a child’s overall health and growth. Babies, children, and teens need more sleep than adults to support their mental and physical development. Children who get enough shut eye are less prone to behavioral problems and moodiness. Sleep is the primary activity of the brain during early development. Circadian rhythms and sleep-wake cycles take time to develop in newborns, which is the reason for their irregular sleep schedules. It almost takes 2-6 months to have a regular sleep-wake cycle. Each child has different sleep needs, according to their needs parents have to set proper sleep schedules for the kids.

Newborns (0-3 months)

Newborns typically sleep for a total of 14-18 hours a day, but in short sleep-periods which may last for few minutes to several hours. They have an irregular sleep schedule as they do not develop internal biological clock or circadian rhythms and even their sleep patterns are not related to the daylight and night-darkness cycles.

Infants (4-11 months)

By this age, the baby is beginning to settle down and regular sleep patterns are observed. Infants sleep about 12-15 hours a day with 2-3 daytime naps lasting for 30 minutes to 2 hours. During infancy separation anxiety (infants get upset when a parent tries to leave them with someone else) is observed, though it is a normal part of development, it can be disturbing or unsettling for infants.

Toddlers (1-2 years)

Toddlers need up to 10-14 hours of sleep. When the child moves past the first year or when they reach 18 months of age mostly they will lose their morning and early evening nap and may nap only once a day, which may range from 1-3 long. Most of the toddlers experience sleep problems which include or just eat nighttime awakenings, nighttime fears, and nightmares.

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

Preschoolers sleep about 10-12 hours per night. They may no longer require a daytime nap if they get a proper sleep at nights. Generally, they go to bed between 7 pm and 9 pm and wake up around 6 am and 8 am. Some common sleep problems observed in preschoolers are sleepwalking and sleep terrors.

School Aged (6-13 years)

These school aged kids require 10-11 hours of sleep per night. At these ages, with homework, sports, after-school activities, computers, mobiles, TVs and hectic family schedules all can contribute to kids not getting enough or proper sleep. Sleep-deprived kids can become irritable or hyper leading to difficulty in paying attention at school.

Teenagers (14-18 years)

Sleep needs are as important for teenagers as when they were younger. Teens need around 8-9 hours per day. Teens undergo a change in their sleep patterns – sleep late in the nights and wake up late in the mornings. For many teens, social pressures are the culprits from getting quality and proper sleep.

Sleep Tips For Children

  • Encourage nighttime sleep.
  • Develop regular daytime and bedtime schedules.
  • Establish a regular sleep friendly environment.
  • Keep TV and computers out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid unhealthy and heavy snacking before bedtime.

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