The amount of sleep that a child needs is going to be based on that child’s age. Actually, we have a great article on WebMD, where you can actually click on the different ages to find out what your child’s sleep need is going to be. But generally speaking, what we’re finding in National Sleep Foundation’s polls is that kids aren’t getting enough sleep, and they are also not getting sleep at the times that they need.
It may be an enjoyable thing to, because you’re coming home late, to be able to spend some time with your child, and have them stay up past their bedtime, but it really can be a detriment to their health in the long run. In the first year of life, children are going to sleeping north of 18 hours in some cases. Maybe as little as 12 or 13 hours, but that oftentimes occurs if you have a very colicky baby or a reflux baby. Try to know and understand what health issues could be going on there.
When you get into the 2 to 3 range, that’s when your children should be sleeping about 11 – 12 hours. Then when you start to move into grade school, you’re going to be looking at 9 to 10 hours, and you should, your kids should stick to the 9 to 10 hour range almost through high school.
Very few high schoolers get that much sleep, and so, interestingly what we’ve found is, first of all, high school age children tend to swing and want to stay up late, and sleep late, and so anybody out there who has a high school age kid knows that the kids want to stay up til 2:00 am and then they want to sleep til noon. Uh, that’s a natural occurrence for them. Believe it or not, in Minnesota, they actually changed school start times and they found that kids increased their grades by almost a full letter grade by actually going to school later and staying later.
So when you’re talking with your children about sleep, one of the things that you want to say is hey, this is very important for you. First of all, it helps you learn, second of all, it helps your overall mood, and finally, it really helps your health. And so I try to make the importance of sleep greater for children, so that way, they can get an understanding of it. It’s not that mom or dad wants you to go to bed at a certain time because they are mean. It’s because they are actually doing something better for your health.
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