After a long night with little sleep from caring for my sick 8 year old, I again realize the importance of a good night’s sleep. Sleep is important for both children and parents. With inadequate sleep, children can be moody, fatigued, have inattention, poor school performance, increased daytime sleepiness, or even depression.
In current society, our kids have high homework loads, extensive after school activities and parents with increased work demands. These demands are causing our kids to get to bed later and are adversely affecting our kids. In addition, when our kids get to bed later, so do we.
Sleep requirements vary for different kids but typical requirements are:
- 11-13 hours a day for toddlers
- 10-11 hours a night for school age children
- 9-9.5 hours a night for teenagers
There are ways we can help to facilitate a good night’s sleep. It is important to establish a relaxing bedtime routine and a regular bedtime. Children should sleep in a cool, dark, quiet room. The room should have no distractions or activities. That means no TV, computer, video games, or cell phone. Children should have regular afternoon physical activity but not right before bed. They should have no caffeine after lunch. They should also turn off all video stimulation at 7 o’clock to allow their brain to rest before bed. Teenagers should not have cell phones in their room so they cannot be woken by texts or calls.
If your child takes more than 30 minutes to fall asleep or has trouble staying asleep talk to your child’s pediatrician. Also, if you have noticed loud snoring or trouble breathing at night, they could have a medical problem affecting their sleep so call our office so we can evaluate the sleep problem further.
Elizabeth Chea, MD