By Sue Hubbard, M.D.
Sleep - who can get enough of it? More and more studies point to the need for a good night’s sleep. As a new parent, you’re sleep deprived, then when your children get older, they may sleep through the night but wake up at the crack of dawn. Once your kids reach their teens, their days and nights are totally upside down; they often want to stay up too late and sleep half the day away.
Sleep is an important way to rest our brains and reset our bodies for another day. Circadian rhythm helps regulate our sleep/wake cycles. Yet trying to make sure that your children get enough sleep seems to be a never ending battle (at least in many homes). It’s also one of the most frequent concerns of many of my patient’s parents.
A recent study undertaken by the National Sleep Foundation reviewed over 300 articles published in peer-reviewed journals between 2004 and 2014. Based upon this review, here are the updated sleep recommendations:
Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hour
Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
School aged children (6-13): 9-11 hours
Teens (14-17): 8-10 hours
Young adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
So, how do your children stack up against the recommendations? Parents with newborns often complain that their children sleep 15 hours, but not in the increments they’d like, while parents with man kids over the age of 13 rarely report that their children get 8-10 hours of sleep.
One mother recently expressed frustration that her 7-year-old daughter would go to bed at 7:30 p.m., but woke up every day at 6 a.m. I explained to her that her child was getting enough sleep, but that unfortunately, her biological clock was set, and that short of making her stay in her room until 6:45 a.m. - when Mom’s preferred she get up - there was not much to do.
The problem is, parents rarely can’t go to bed when their children do (think laundry, work emails and other chores). So while their children may be getting enough sleep, the parents are often sleep deprived!
While a good night’s sleep is important for mood and focus, there’s a lot of data suggesting that children who get enough sleep are less obese, less likely to get into trouble and certainly more pleasant to be around.
Establishing a good nighttime routine is helpful, beginning with a regular bedtime for your children. Commit to no electronics in kids’ bedrooms, and turn off any electronic devices at least an hour before bed. Furthermore, we parents need to do the same!
Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. “The Kid’s Doctor” TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com. The Kid’s Doctor e-book, “Tattoos to Texting: Parenting Today’s Teen,” is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.)
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This column was printed in the May 17, 2015 - May 31, 2015 edition