We all know that us healthy adults should be aiming for between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, but anyone with young children will know that this goes completely out of the window for the little ones.
Making sure your kids get the right amount of sleep is incredibly important, not least because you’ll be wanting to get a little bit of shut-eye yourself!
However, there’s evidence that as well as making your children irate and keeping you up all night, not getting enough sleep could lead to obesity in children.
This is thought to be because kids crave more starchy or sugary foods during the day to give them the energy to stay awake later at night.
Other possible side effects could include diabetes, depression or the risk of accidents.
In teenagers, a lack of sleep has even been linked to self-harming.
As for the benefits of getting enough sleep, kids will wake up much more alert, better behaved and will find it easier to learn, all of which is obviously essential for school.
But with recommended amounts varying quite a lot depending on their age, it can be difficult to gauge what’s right.
Now the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has released new guidelines to set the record straight on how long parents should be allowing their children to sleep.
Their recommendations (including naps) are:
- 12 to 16 hours for children aged 4 months to 12 months.
- 11 to 14 hours for children aged 1 to 2 years.
- 10 to 13 hours for children aged 3 to 5 years.
- 9 to 12 hours for children aged 6 to 12 years.
- 8 to 10 hours for teens aged 13 to 18 years.
While it’s not surprising that younger babies need the most sleep, it might be a little alarming that teenagers, who are renowned for getting very little still need a minimum of 8 hours.
The research also recommends that a good way to know whether your young one is getting enough sleep is to see how easily they get up in a morning.
If they’re fairly alert and happy throughout the day, then things should be ok, but if they wake up cranky and grumpy, then you’ve obviously got a problem on your hands!
However, it is important to note that just like adults, children’s (and especially baby’s) sleep patterns can vary quite a bit, and you might find that a couple of daytime naps help make up their total sleep.
Dr Shalini Paruthi, who worked on the research said: “Sleep is essential to good health, and it starts in childhood. These recommendations are kind of a first step to help people to understand that they need to prioritize sleep.”
The new recommendations are the result of 10-months’ worth of research, during which the team looked at 864 studies which looked at how much the length of sleep related to: general health, cardiovascular health, metabolic health, mental health, immunologic function, developmental health and human performance.
If you’re concerned that your child isn’t getting enough sleep, perhaps get in touch with your doctor to see if they may suffer from any sleep disorders although chances are it’s perfectly normal and just a tough routine to break!
For all the latest sleep-related news, keep checking the Sleepy People blog!