We’re in transition around here, trying to find our footing as we kick back into our back-to-school routines. We’ve only been in school two weeks, and our biggest challenge has been adjusting our sleep schedule and re-establishing our bedtimes – quickly. While I love to wing it during the lazy days of summer and kick back, the truth is that we thrive in this house on structure.
As a parent, I’ve always needed that down time to decompress in the evenings after a long day, even if it’s just to get work done. For my kids, I’ve been a big advocate to develop consistent sleep routines. One of mine has always appreciated sleep, and the other has always resisted it. What I’ve tried to keep in perspective is that their needs change as they continue to grow and I’ve had to readjust my schedule accordingly.
So what are some tips and interesting facts on the importance of sleep in kids? Check out some great information below…
How much sleep should kids be getting?
Last year, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, changed its recommendations for how much sleep children should get:
Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours
Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours
Why does consistent and regular sleep matter?
A study published in Pediatrics found that children with non-regular bedtimes had more behavioral difficulties. Consistent sleep routines lead to positive outcomes such as: Improved attention, improved behavior, and improved emotional regulation. One question without a clear answer, according to Dr. Swanson, is this: Does poor sleep lead to worse behavior or do children with behavior challenges have a difficult time sleeping? Both can be true for some children. The bottom line, insufficient sleep in children can also lead to increased risk for challenges with weight, hypertension, diabetes and decreased performance at school. And insufficient sleep makes it harder to enjoy our days.
What about screen time?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all screens be turned off 30 minutes to 1-2 hours before bedtime. Further, small screens (like smart phones) are more disruptive to sleep than TV – the light from the devices can impede natural hormones that help us fall asleep. And the interruptions from devices can fracture our sleep, too. Don’t sleep with your cell phone and don’t let your children either.
Did you know that kids under the age of 12, or before puberty, get tired naturally around 8pm, according to Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson of Seattle Mama Doc? Around 8pm, there is a natural rise in their melatonin levels and she recommends parents seize that opportunity to transition kids to bed.
What can you do if your child has trouble falling asleep?
If you are noticing it is happening more regularly, keeping a sleep diary can help you uncover the causes of a child’s sleep problems. Follow this link to the KnowYourOTCs site for more details on starting a sleep diary, especially if you are planning to talk to your child’s doctor about it.
Important Reminder For All Parents:
Never give your child an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine to make them sleepy. Always read the label before giving your child an OTC medicine. OTC cold and flu medicines may contain diphenhydramine, which can cause drowsiness. It is important to only treat your child with the right OTC medicine for the symptoms they are presenting, not to aid in sleep.
Re-entry is tough, and I hope everyone has a relatively easy transition and healthy/happy/safe start to the new school year.
I’m proud to join the conversation and empower parents as a blogging ambassador with the CHPA (Consumer Healthcare Products Association) Educational Foundation and KnowYourOTCs.org. This is a sponsored post. While I have received compensation from the CHPA Educational Foundation, all opinions are my own.