Parents are very aware of the importance of sleep for a child’s physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing, but knowing just how much sleep is needed at any given age can be unclear. This week the American Academy of Sleep Medicine released new sleep guidelines for babies, school-aged children, and teenagers, and these guidelines help to outline the ideal amount of sleep hours each age range requires to function at their best. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the new guidelines, which were developed by a group of 13 sleep medicine experts and researchers. Their recommendations are as follows:
- Infants 4 to 12 months - 12 to 16 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 1 to 2 years - 11 to 14 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 3 to 5 years - 10 to 13 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 6 to 12 years - 9 to 12 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
- Teens 13 to 18 years - 8 to 10 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
(Recommendations for newborns are not included due to the wide range of what is considered normal in infant sleep patterns.)
According to the study, children who regularly meet the recommended amount of sleep hours for their age are more likely to display better behavior, memory, academic progress, greater attention span, emotional regulation, and many other health benefits. On the flip side, not getting enough sleep is linked to higher risks of obesity, hypertension, injuries, depression, and diabetes. Research shows that teenagers are particularly susceptible, as over 85% of them do not get enough sleep, leaving them especially at risk for self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
One of the biggest challenges many children and teenagers who need more shuteye face is constant exposure to video screens. Laptops, phones, televisions, and other screens interfere with the body’s ability to get adequate sleep, as the light the screens emit stimulates wakefulness. The AAP therefore recommends keeping all screens out of the bedrooms, both for children as well as for parents. In addition, screens should be shut off at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
For more recommendations on ways that families can prioritize sleep health for their children, as well as more information about the new guidelines and research findings, check out the CBS News report.