Sleep hygiene in children
Getting enough sleep on most days is a better solution for alertness, performance and productivity. That’s because sleeping is vital for a range of brain and body functions. Getting enough sleep also reduces your risk of a car accident, weight gain, obesity, diabetes and depression.
Sleep hygiene in children is important for adequate daytime functioning in adults and is particularly important for ensuring appropriate learning and memory consolidation in children of school-going age.
Developmentally appropriate bedtimes are important, as going to bed too early can result in a delayed sleep onset. By 6 months of age, all infants should be able to sleep through the night without feeding and should fall asleep on their own. Between 6 months and 2 years of age, approximately 13 hours of sleep per day is required. Children between 2-3 years of age need approximately 12 hours of sleep per day. Between 3-5 years of age, children require about 11 hours of sleep. Children between the ages of and 9 years of age require about 10.5 hours of sleep and they should no longer be napping. Between 9 and 13 years of age approximately 10 hours of sleep is required per day.
The amount of sleep a child requires is highly individual. If your child is sleeping for less than the recommended amount of time but is alert and not tired during the daytime then your child is getting sufficient sleep. If your child is sleeping for the recommended amount of time but is showing signs of daytime fatigue and excessive tiredness then your child may require more sleep than the recommended amount.
Teenagers require 9 hours of sleep per day, however they have trouble getting enough sleep because of their busy schedules and also because their biology programs them to want to stay awake later into the night and sleep later in the morning. This preferred sleeping pattern does not mesh well with school schedules.
Consistent sleep schedules and routines (bedtimes and times for awakening in the morning) on school days, weekends and during school holidays is important for synchronising circadian rhythms. An appropriate sleep environment is important for a restful sleep in children.
Stimulating activities such as watching television, playing TV or computer games and competitive board games should be avoided prior to bedtime as they promote alertness and can delay the onset of sleep.
Stimulants such as caffeinated drinks and sugars should be avoided late in the day as these have stimulating effects and can delay sleep.
For more information go to Sleep Hygiene Web sites.