March brings us springtime, flowers, and a break from the cold weather. But, it also means daylight savings time, days are longer and nights are shorter. Even though, daylight savings only means one hour of sleep loss, that one hour can drastically change our sleeping habits and schedules. This change can have a lasting effect on people both young and old. March is Sleep Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time to re-evaluate and re-learn how important sleep is to our health and overall wellness.
How much sleep does your child need?
Researchers have been studying the effects of sleep on children of all ages for years. Studies have shown that children need significantly more sleep than adults. Children are constantly growing, both physically and cognitively; and sleep is a vital piece to this puzzle. Below are the recommended hours of sleep your children should be getting each night.
11-month-old and younger: 14-15 hours
1-3-year-olds: 12-12 hours
3-5-year-olds: 11 hours, 30 minutes
6-7-year-olds: 11 hours
8-10-year-olds: 10 hours
11- 13-year-olds: 9 hours, 30 minutes
13-16-year-olds: 9 hours
Children who don’t obtain an adequate amount of sleep each night can develop problems falling asleep and maintaining sleep throughout the night. Additionally, lack of sleep can affect behaviors throughout the day. Unlike adults, who tend to act lethargic with less sleep, children tend to act in an opposite manner.
The Importance of Routine:
There are a variety of things that can affect the quality of sleep your children get. A huge trigger in sleeping problems for young children is a lack of routine. Consistency not only helps our children fall asleep but also helps them to maintain sleep throughout the night.
How to improve sleeping patterns:
- Set a bedtime and wake-up time every night. Including weekends and summertime. This process helps your child’s internal clock triggering them to feel sleepy and awake at appropriate hours.
- Have a consistent bedtime routine. Having a steady routine helps your children transition from the buzz of the day’s activities to calm of nighttime.
- Create a calming and comfortable atmosphere. Your child’s bedroom should be associated with sleep. The ambiance of the room should be calming and relaxing and aid in the process of falling asleep. Which means, no more timeouts or being sent to the bedroom as a punishment. Try to find alternative spaces for timeouts.
- Avoid high energy activities, foods with caffeine or sugar, and bright light right before bedtime.
- Encourage your children to fall asleep independently. If you have a little one that struggles with the idea of sleeping without Mom or Dad, try giving them a piece of clothing or something that has Mom or Dad’s scent on it to comfort them to falling asleep independently.
- Make sure your children are getting the proper hours of sleep depending on their age.
Ask your Pediatric Care Group pediatrician if you have concerns about the amount of time your children are sleeping, or if you have questions pertaining to the length of time your kids should be sleeping.