Sleep Guidelines by Age

Sleep – we all know how important it is, but how many of us are getting enough? It turns out that over half of American children do not get enough sleep. Children who do not sleep are more likely to have academic troubles, behavior issues (including worsening ADHD behaviors), be obese, get sick, and more. If your child wakes up fairly happy and easily in the morning and does not have a meltdown in the late afternoon from being over-tired, he or she is probably well-rested. So how much sleep is recommended? See the chart attached.

One issue that affects ALL children is those pesky “screens.” I recommend NO SCREENS for one hour before bedtime (see below for more info).

Here are some specific issues by age:

Toddlers: “Mom, mom, mom! Can I have a glass of water?” This is the age when children often try every technique known to man to delay bedtime and going to sleep. I recommend parents give their children one question/ request/ comment per night. After that, IGNORE. Consistency is key. Kids are old enough at this age understand the concept of one free “call-out.” Establishing a good bedtime routine with books, bath time, etc. is important.

School-Age: By elementary school, most kids I see have an established bedtime routine and are falling asleep fairly quickly. The issue I see most often at this age is that children do not go to bed early enough. Some younger school-aged children need 10-12 hours a night! That means if they wake up at 7AM, they should go to sleep between 7-8PM. Many kids are just getting home from practice or a game at this time. Making sleep a priority is important.

Teens: Do I even need to say it? PHONES! Teenagers need more sleep than the typical adult – between 8-10 hours a night. After homework, jobs, and practice, teens are often left with little free time to socialize and “chill,” which can lead to hours spent on tablets or phones before bed. It has been studied and proven time and time again that the blue lights on these screens cause all people, adults included, to have trouble falling asleep. Again, I recommend NO SCREENS for one hour before time to go to sleep. But what will the kids do? Read a book or magazine! Draw! Mediate or yoga! Get creative for the wind-down routine in your teenagers.

-Dr. Sarah Moor