Children's Sleep: The Good Night Guide
Heartfulness eMagazine|January 2021
DR. GARIMA GARG SETH is a pediatrician with a mission to help children learn good sleep habits. Here she explains to us what that means, and how as parents we can provide the best possible environment for children to develop a healthy sleep lifestyle.
DR. GARIMA GARG SETH

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Benjamin Franklin

We all grew up with our elders quoting this old adage, but somehow today sleep has become a casualty of modern life. I often find parents saying that their children do not sleep until 12 or 1 in the night. Some are happy and proud about it, while some are worried. Sleep is extremely important to support children’s development both physically and mentally. Establishing good sleep patterns can help children to meet their full potential. It can improve a child’s quality of life, memory, learning, attention, and behavior. Children with good sleep do better in school and have lower rates of mental and physical health problems than those with sleep problems.

It is also important for parents’ mental health. As a parent, it is important to introduce good sleep habits early in your child’s life. A well-rested household usually makes for a happier home.

How much sleep do children need?

Sleep needs change as children get older. There are set guidelines that define the amount of sleep needed by children for optimal health. Regularly getting this number of hours of sleep can help your child avoid health risks associated with sleep deprivation. Now this is a general guideline that applies to most children, but some will have different sleep needs. If your child sleeps less or more than the average time prescribed, it’s not always an issue. But, it might also be tempting to think that your children can get away with less sleep than they need or that they should be able to cope fairly well with a few skipped hours of sleep. This is not true either.

The recommended sleep per 24 hours according to the age of the child, as per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is:

Newborn to 3 months: 16 to 18 hours (including naps)

4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)

1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours (including naps)

3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours

13 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours

What are the signs that my children are not getting enough sleep?

They may show decreased levels of alertness, poor school performance, and bad moods. Young children may even have too much energy or hyperactivity leading to behavioral issues. In teenagers it can sometimes show up as mood changes and irritability.

Listed below are just a few of the symptoms of sleep deprivation in children:

• Learning problems: concentration issues, difficulty remembering things, hyperactivity

• Poor mental health, behavioral issues, headaches

• Lowering of immune system function

• Weight gain, growth issues

• In older age groups: hypertension, obesity, depression etc.

Is a nap required during the day?

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