Sleep is one of those aspects of life we can sometimes treat a little too casually. It is, at times, low on the list of day-to-day priorities for us adults. We may slip into a routine whereby we live off 5-6 hours’ sleep per night.
A good night sleep is a vital ingredient to a healthier lifestyle. Children are no different. Kids and teenagers need ample sleep for them to grow and develop healthily. It provides their rapidly evolving body the necessary tools in order to repair.
According to research, children are getting less sleep than they did a generation ago. This may be down to several factors, such as the increase in technology playing a part in bed-time routines and seemingly more worries about exams and peer pressures.
There is well-known evidence to suggest that sleep deprivation or too few hours of sleep per night can have an impact on the short and long-term mental health of children and young people. Extreme moods, anxiety, depression are among a few of the results of not getting sufficient sleep. These effects can be carried into adulthood which can have vast impacts on their own general wellbeing.
The crucial area of sleep which is important is the amount of REM sleep your child gets. REM sleep is Rapid Eye Movement and is present in mammals – us included and is a stage of sleep where your brain and body are energized, and you are susceptible to dream.
A new-born should be aiming to receive 14-15 hours per day. During those first few days, this may be all over the place as their internal and external body clocks align to their new world. But once things settle, 14-15 hours for the first 12 months is the expected amount. Colic and normal baby sleep problems such as the need to feed on tap will obviously see fluctuating times.
As they get older sleep hours should decrease – toddlers to the age of 3 should be getting 12-14 hours of sleep. But unfortunately, this is the age when sleep issues can begin to occur on a regular basis. They may be sleeping in a brand-new bed for ‘big children’ – where the sides are taken away, and they are free to get out of bed as they wish. They may be potty training which can impact on their sleep. Some toddlers will be in the bed of their parents which is not ideal as they (and the parents) will feel all movement and may not get enough REM sleep if this is the case. Parents can sure vouch for this.
3-6 year-olds should be receiving 10-12 hours – this again can be hard to reach due to ongoing bedtime issues, such as waking up, night terrors, etc.
7-12 year-olds can function well enough on 10-11 hours sleep.
Teens, as they approach adulthood, will need 8-9 hours of sleep as the recommended amount.
Sleep is so important for kids to achieve and excel in all aspects of their everyday life, not only during those early years but into their adult life also. A smooth, successful bed-time routine can make or break their ability to thrive in class the following morning. Setting a realistic bed ‘time’ according to your own set up at home is also important in ensuring enough sleep is obtained. As we as parents can testify during those bleary-eyed mornings after a ‘sleepless’ night of parenting.
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