Unbeknown to many parents there are an inordinate amount of children that are going through their days sleep deprived and exhausted. Many times these children are diagnosed with behavioural problems that could be simply taken care of by getting regular, needed and vital sleep. The reason that this happens is simple; there is a part of our brain that helps us to regulate our actions and responses and, if we don’t get the correct amount of sleep, this part of the brain can be adversely affected.
The question thus becomes; how many hours of sleep a night does my child need? We’ve put together a small chart below that we created using information from the University of Michigan health system. It will give you a much clearer idea of how much sleep your child needs based on their age. If you’re keen on making sure that they are well-adjusted and have fewer problems at home or in school, you would do well to follow these guidelines.
· Infants need approximately 16 hours a day, including naptime.
· Toddlers should get about 14 hours of sleep a day which includes one or two naps.
· Preschoolers need about 12 hours a make and one nap during the day to stay healthy.
· Primary school children should get about 11 hours of sleep per night.
· Middle school kids should be getting about 10 hours of sleep in every night.
· High Schoolers need around 8 to 9 hours if they’re going to keep up with their studies.
Using the numbers on this chart, as we mentioned above, is an excellent idea but keep in mind that some children may need a bit more sleep and some may do just fine with a little bit less. If you’re not sure that your child is getting the sleep that he or she needs there are a few questions that you can ask yourself or ask them to help you figure out if they are or if it’s possible they are sleep deprived and suffering from it.
1. Is your child able to fall asleep within 15 minutes to half an hour?
2. Does your child wake up easily from sleeping?
3. Is your son or daughter completely awake and mentally alert throughout the entire day?
4. When driving in the car does your child fall asleep all the time?
5. Is your child irritable, overly emotional, hyperactive or aggressive during the day?
If you answered ‘no’ to questions 1 and 2 and ‘yes’ to questions 3 to 5 then there is a good chance that your son or daughter is sleep deprived. If that’s the case, the suggestions that we have for you below should help to ensure that they get the sleep that their growing body desperately needs.
· Pick a bedtime and stick to it every night. This should be around the time that your son or daughter starts to show outward signs of being tired and slowing down.
· Bedtime rituals are an excellent way to make sure that they are calm and ready for sleep, especially with younger children. Singing songs, reading a story and taking a nice warm bath are all great ideas.
· Although difficult, it’s best to limit comfort items like toys and blankets to 2 for sleeping as more could become a distraction.
· Be firm. Remind your children constantly that bedtime is for sleeping.
· Never use sleeping as a punishment or threat.
· Completely avoid food and drinks that contain sugar or caffeine at least three hours before bedtime.
Sleep is an essential part of your child’s day and should be taken quite seriously. A child, whether an infant or teenager in high school, needs sleep in order to be prepared for school, think more clearly, control their emotions and truly enjoy their day. As their parent, making sure your child gets and asleep is a vital part of your job.