Is Your Family Getting Enough Sleep?
Two-thirds of children age 10 and younger have sleep problems. Lack of sleep has been linked to poor school performance, weight gain, irritability and problems with behavior and development. Here are tips to help your child sleep:
Infants (newborn to 18 months)
Sleep needed: 10 to 18 hours of sleep a day (including naps)
- Develop daytime nap and bedtime schedules and stick to them.
- Create an enjoyable bedtime routine that you do every night with your child.
- Establish a safe sleep environment. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be placed on their backs in a crib without soft objects and bedding such as pillows, quilts and stuffed animals.
- Put infants to bed drowsy, but not yet asleep, to encourage them to fall asleep on their own.
Toddlers and preschoolers (19 months to 4 years)
Sleep needed: 11 to 14 hours a day (including naps)
- Develop a bedtime routine such as having a snack or reading a story. Make sure the routine ends with your child in his or her own bed.
- Create a bedroom environment that is the same every night – cool, dark, quiet and comfortable.
- If your child is afraid, suggest a blanket or stuffed animal for company.
- If your child wakes in the middle of the night, try to redirect him or her back to bed with minimal interactions.
School-aged children (5 to 12 years)
Sleep needed: 9 to 11 hours a night
- Talk to your school-aged child about healthy sleep habits and why they are important.
- Enforce consistent sleep schedules and bedtime routines, even on weekends.
- Make your child's bedroom the best environment for sleep – dark, cool and quiet.
- Avoid having a TV or computer in your child's bedroom.
- Balance your child's schedule. Never let activities take the place of sleep.
- Teach your child to eat healthy and exercise regularly. Overweight children are at risk for sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder.
Sleep needed: 9 hours a night
- Help your teen plan a schedule that includes the necessary sleep time and stick to it, even on the weekends.
- Encourage your teen to develop a bedtime routine that involves quiet activities like reading or listening to soft music.
- Electronic devices, including cellphones, should be turned off an hour before bedtime. Read about a new phenomenon called sleep texting.
- Create a good sleep environment – cool, dark and comfortable.
- Limit caffeine, especially after lunchtime.
- Many teens have trouble falling asleep because of anxiety. If your teen has trouble falling asleep because they can't stop thinking, encourage them to use relaxation techniques.
- Encourage your teen to exercise. Going outside, especially in the morning, helps with light exposure and wakefulness. Regular exercise helps work off emotional energy and helps your teen sleep better.
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of not sleeping including drowsy driving, which is just as dangerous as drunk driving.
Be a good role model and make sleep a priority for the whole family. Talk to your child's doctor if you have concerns. Most sleep problems are treatable. Learn about the Sleep Center at Children's Hospital, treatment options for sleep disorders and our specialists.
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