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The Importance of Sleep for Children

The amount of sleep you need varies based on your age. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the following is the recommended amount of sleep a child should get:

  • Infants under 1 year: 12 – 16 hours
  • Children 1 – 2 years old: 11 – 14 hours
  • Children 3 – 5 years old: 10 – 13 hours
  • Children 6 – 12 years old: 9 – 12 hours
  • Teenagers 13 – 18 years old: 8 – 10 hours

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5 Ways to Develop Healthier Sleeping Habits

#1 – Make sleep a family priority.

Set a good example by not only making sure your child gets to bed at the right time but also ensuring that you put yourself to bed at a decent hour.

#2 – Be consistent.

Maintain a healthy routine, including waking time, meal times, nap times, play times, homework time, etc. Have a nighttime routine that involves changing for bed, brushing teeth and maybe some light reading/a story before turning the lights out.

Having a routine schedule adds consistency and helps your child feel more secure and comfortable and will help ease them into a smooth bedtime routine as well.

#3 – Monitor screen time.

The AAP recommends keeping all screens – TVs, laptops, tablets, cell phones – out of children’s bedrooms, especially at night. Prevent issues with sleep by shutting off all electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime. It may help to create a family media use plan to help you and your children set healthy boundaries about screen time before bed. This includes you too, parents!

#4 – Avoid overscheduling.

Depending on the age of your child, he/she may have homework in addition to other after school activities (ex: sports, music lessons, appointments, etc.). All of these may create challenges when it comes to winding down at night to go to bed. Remember that kids need extra downtime in order to relax and prepare for bed. Scale back on certain activities and be mindful of how busy your child’s day is. Always make the time to have some downtime before bed to ensure that your child gets the rest that he/she needs.

#5 – Pay attention to your child’s behavior.

If you notice that your child’s grades have dropped, they are getting into trouble at school, falling asleep while at school, or are acting out in other ways – it may be due to a lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep.

Speak to your child’s teacher to address any issues that may be going on at school. You may also want to discuss your child’s sleep habits with your pediatrician as most sleep issues are easily treated. Your doctor may be able to offer additional suggestions to help improve your child’s sleeping habits.

*Other Resources: HealthyChildren.org

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Find a Pediatric Primary Care Doctor

WakeMed Physician Practices – Pediatrics provides primary medical care to children ages newborn to 18 years, treating a variety of services and diagnoses. Call us today to schedule an appointment: 919-350-7846.

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