Sleep is, and has always been, a critical contributor to our overall state of physical and psychological health. It allows our bodies and brains to recover and recharge at the end of each day. For children, sleep is also critical, as it directly impacts both their mental and physical development.
According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, parents or caregivers should help guide children to create and maintain good sleep habits during their developmental years. Children thrive on regular bedtime routines that are both relaxing and enjoyable for them. These routines allow them to get a good night’s rest, and result in healthier immune systems and better school performance, memory, behavior, and mental health.
How much sleep does my child need?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends:
12-16 hours of sleep for infants
11-14 hours for toddlers
10-13 hours for preschoolers
9-12 hours for grade schoolers.
To achieve this, creating a sleep-friendly environment is encouraged. An environment that is dark, comfortable, and free of any distractions or electronics that might disturb your child from going to bed is ideal. It is also recommended to reduce stimulation 1-2 hours before bedtime. Actions that help reduce stimulation might include scheduling some quiet time, taking a bath, or cutting off-screen time. Stimulation-reducing actions create a smooth transition into their night-time routine. It is important to know that after implementing nightly routines, it might take a few weeks to see any noticeable changes. Therefore, being patient and staying consistent with the routine that works best for your child is the recommended approach. If you notice that your child still has sleep problems such as difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings, heavy breathing, snoring, or sleep apnea, talking to your pediatrician is the best thing you can do, as they will be able to provide you with additional resources or suggestions to improve your child’s sleep habits.