How much sleep does my child need?

There is seemingly no end to the number of articles that are written on the subject of sleep and how much is enough for school-aged children.  There also seems to be no lack of opinions on the subject either.  So, as a parent how can I decide on what is right?

Even though there may be no specifics that can be given for each individual child, there are still guidelines that we as parents can follow.  The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, in an article published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine:

  • Children 6-12 need 9-12 hours
  • Children 13-18 need 8-10 hours.

You will notice that these are pretty wide ranges and sometimes it is difficult to know what your child really needs. Some of the clues you may look for are whether your child is sluggish when they get home from school. Do they just want to sit around after supper? You can also check with their teachers who will know if they are attentive and on task through-out the day.

What are the benefits of the proper amount of sleep? Researchers have determined that among the benefits are included: better behavior, longer attention span, better learning habits, increased memory, better regulated emotions, and an overall better quality of life.

Children who lack the amount of sleep necessary are more prone to injury, tend to be more tense, are subject to physical problems such as diabetes and obesity, and can be future candidates for depression. With all these problems potentially looming, how can you insure that your child is getting the proper amount of sleep?

Although difficult at times the answer lies in habits. The more you are able to establish routines the easier it will become. First of all, establish a regular bedtime that will allow for the proper amount of sleep.  Secondly, don’t make going to bed something that is rushed.  There should be a relaxing time prior to going to bed.  This would be a great time to have a family devotion.  What better way to prepare for a good nights sleep than gathering around God’s Word?  During that final 30 minutes or so before going to sleep remove screens of all kinds (TV, phone, computer, tablet, etc.).  Finally, remove all these screens from the sleep area so your child is not tempted to use them and reduce their sleep time.

Although it may be difficult at first, if everyone works together you can make it work.  The result is you will see a much happier child who will learn and play at a higher level.

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