Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

tired boy sleeping on books
Not getting enough rest could affect your child's performance at school. Daniel Grill/Getty Images

For many active school-aged children, sleep can be as hard to come by as it is for busy adults. After-school activities, homework, and playtime with family and friends can all lead to a packed schedule. Add to that the lure of electronics such as TV, computers, and video games, and texts from friends and you have the makings of chronic sleep deficit in kids.

Since school-aged children need between 9 to 12 hours of sleep, parents must be vigilant about enforcing bedtimes, setting up good sleep routines, and watching for signs of fatigue in their children.

Sleep Guidelines

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends the following sleep guidelines for children:

  • Infants 4 to 12 months old: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
  • Kids ages 1 to 2: 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
  • Kids ages 3 to 5: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
  • Kids ages 6 to 12: 9 to 12 hours
  • Kids ages 13 to 18: 8 to 10 hours

It’s especially important for school-aged kids to get enough rest. For one thing, one of the factors that can reduce the immune system’s ability to fight off infections is not getting enough sleep, and as we know, kids in school are constantly exposed to contagious illnesses such as colds from classmates. Lack of sleep in children has also been associated with health problems ranging from obesity to mood swings, as well as cognitive problems that can have an impact on a child’s ability to concentrate, pay attention, and learn in school. If your child fights to go to bed and has trouble going to sleep, take steps to figure out what the problem may be and make sure she gets the rest she needs.

Signs of Sleep Deprivation in Children

If you think your child might not be getting enough sleep, look for these signs that she is not getting the amount of sleep she needs. Your child is sleep deprived if she:

  1. Has trouble waking up in the morning
  2. Exhibits irritable behavior
  3. Seems overly emotional and moody
  4. Is hyperactive
  5. Has difficulty concentrating in school
  6. Has trouble staying awake during the day

If you see signs of sleep deficit in your child, try setting up some good nighttime sleep routines and healthy sleep habits to help your child get the amount of rest she needs to be at her best both at home and at school.

Given how important getting enough sleep is for school-age children, parents should do everything they can to make sure their child gets the rest he needs. If these efforts still don't improve the amount and quality of sleep your child gets (if he wakes up constantly and doesn't get continuous sleep for the recommended hours for his age), call your doctor and make an appointment for a check and possible evaluation with a pediatric sleep specialist.

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