Sleep is so important whether you’re 8 or 80. It’s a time for your body to recover and rebuild, and for the brain to process new information. But, for children and teens, sleep is extra important as it directly impacts mental and physical development. Most parents know that growing kids need good sleep, but many don’t know just how many hours of sleep kids require. How much sleep your child needs depends on their age and their stage of development.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends:
- Ages 1 – 2 need about 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
- Ages 3 – 5 should get 11 to 13 hours of sleep a night
- Ages 6 – 13 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep
- Ages 14 – 17 need 8 to 10 hours of sleep
To help your children get a good night’s rest, practice the following:
- Make it important - teach your children the importance of sleep by making it a priority in your house.
- Be consistent - children of all ages should have a consistent bedtime and wake up time, regardless of whether it’s a week day or a weekend.
- Limit screen time - parents should limit screen time and keep devices out of the bedroom. These devices should be turned off about an hour before bed AND should be kept out of the bedroom.
- Exercise - get your children moving during the day. Exercise during the day will help children sleep better at night.
- Avoid caffeine - soda, energy drinks, and coffee drinks can seriously impact kids and keep them from falling asleep or staying asleep and should be avoided. Also, avoid chocolate close to bed time because this also has caffeine in it.
- Create a relaxing environment - keep the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Make sure the child isn’t too cold or hot in bed, and that there are no lights or noises to keep them up.
A good night’s sleep will help kids of all ages focus better, whether it’s a toddler learning how to walk or a high-schooler driving a car. Kids who get the right amount of sleep are less likely to make unhealthy choices, less likely to have behavior problems, and less likely to get into car accidents. Some signs that your child may need more sleep if difficulty getting up in the morning, falling asleep during school, and acting out or hyperactivity. If you have concerns about your child’s sleep patterns, talk to your child’s pediatrician.
Ginger VanNess is the Manager of the Sleep Disorders Center & Nutrition & Diabetes Management Center for Cone Health. She received her associate’s degree in respiratory care from Sandhills Community College and her Bachelor of Science in neurodiagnostics and sleep science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Ginger received a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Louisiana State University in Shreveport.