sleep recommendations

How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?

Written by Mother-Baby Discharge Facilitator Sheera Thomas

Today was one of those days when the whole family struggled to get out of bed. We had spent the weekend moving to a new house, and after two days of unpacking our lives—and very little sleep—I began wondering exactly how much shut-eye my kids need to be healthy. This is what I found out.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offer sleep recommendations for children, and these have been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. (Pediatricians are encouraged to discuss healthy sleep habits with parents and teens during clinical visits.)

When kids get adequate sleep on a regular basis, they have better attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and overall improved mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep nightly is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression—especially for teens.

The AASM recommends that to promote optimal health:

  • Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis.
  • Children 1 to 2 years old should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis.
  • Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis.
  • Children 6 to 12 years old should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis.
  • Teenagers 13 to 18 years old should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

This was great information to have. Now I know why were all zombies after the busy moving weekend, and I have definitive sleep goals to shoot for with my kids!

Have any other parents found that having a regular sleep schedule—or not having one—drastically impacts kids’ behavior and attitude? Any proven tips you’ve discovered for getting kids back on a sleep schedule after norms gets derailed due to things like vacations—or moves?

Sheera Thomas

SMH Mother-Baby Discharge Facilitator and Lactation Consultant Sheera Thomas, RN, has been an OB nurse for more than 20 years. She is an internationally board-certified lactation consultant, a certified childbirth educator, and—perhaps her most demanding role—a mother of four.

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