Insufficient sleep has been deemed a “public health epidemic,” and the health risks can be significant: a lack of sleep has been linked to poor memory recall, weight gain, and simply feeling drowsy, among other problems. To encourage kids to create healthy sleeping habits at a young age (and avoid these health risks down the road), parents have some new guidelines to follow, which were published Monday by the the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).
The recommendations—the first from the AASM—outline the amount of sleep needed to promote optimal health in children (from infants to 12-year-olds) and teenagers (ages 13 to 18). The statement is published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
To come up with the guidelines, which are listed below, a panel of 13 sleep experts reviewed 864 scientific articles concerning the relationship between sleep duration and health in children. Children who received the recommended amount of sleep were more attentive, had better behavior, and experienced fewer learning problems. Additionally, the researchers found insufficient sleep to be associated with an increased risk in self-harm and suicide attempts in teenagers.
“More than a third of the U.S. population is not getting enough sleep, and for children who are in the critical years of early development, sleep is even more crucial,” Dr. Nathanial Watson, president of the AASM, said in a statement. “Making sure there is ample time for sleep is one of the best ways to promote a healthy lifestyle for a child.”
The AASP recommendations:
Infants four to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
Children one to two years of age: 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
Children three to five years of age: 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
Children six to 12 years of age: nine to 12 hours per 24 hours
Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age: eight to 10 hours per 24 hours
Struggle with getting your child to bed? Give this expert advice a try.