Why Your Children Need More Sleep

sleepDoes your child seem like they need an exorcism most mornings? Are they waking up angry, difficult and impatient? The culprit could be sleep deprivation. What? But my kid gets 8 hour. If your kids are only getting 8 hour then they are not getting enough sleep according to WebMD.  They state the recommended amount of sleep is:

For an infant under one:14-15 hours per day.

For children between 1-3 years of age:12-14 hours

For 3-6 year olds: 10-12 hours per day is recommended

For 7-11 year olds: 11-12 hours a day

For 12-18 year olds: 8-9 hours of sleep a day.

Years ago, I knew something was up when it came to my children’s sleep patterns. I would listen to other mother’s complain that their children were difficult, had a hard time listening, get frustrated easily. I noticed this same behavior in my children when they missed a nap. So for this reason our family adhered to a strict nap schedule, which we still stick to today.

I began to see a pattern emerge. The families who said their kids were often difficult and didn’t listen were also the same families that did not nap their children regularly. When I remarked on this, they would response that their children “don’t need a nap,” or “would never nap.” However, I always wondered if the mid-day nap was sacrificed because it did not fit into the families schedule.

Don’t get me wrong, mid-day naps are often inconvenient and difficult to plan around. I don’t mean to imply that these parents were neglectful. However, I could see a direct correlation between the well-behaved,  a well rested children and the “they don’t need a nap,” difficult child.

Since many mothers do not stay at home and most families are in constant motion come the weekend. Regular napping might not seem a necessity any longer. However, it seems children are falling far short of the needed number of sleeping hours.

According to a US News report, “School-aged children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night, and many children are getting only 7 to 8 hours per night – sometimes even less.” The article also states, “Too little sleep has been associated with behavior issues, including ADHD, hyperactivity and mood swings. Studies have consistently linked even mild sleep deprivation with academic underachievement, concentration difficulties and lower test performance and overall school performance. Poor sleep is also associated with poor eating habits and obesity.” 

Teens, it seems are the worst offenders of sleep deprivation. According to Time Magazine, up to one third of US teens are not getting enough sleep. It might have something to do with the proliferation of smart phones, IPads and other electronic devices that are often used before bed. Personally, I am guilty of this myself and have noticed a marked difference in my sleep patterns when I put the electronic devices in another room before bed.

So what are some things we can do to help our kids get the proper amount of sleep

  1. If you have children under the age of 5 give them a regularly scheduled nap. Even of you think they will not nap. Give them a consistent “quiet time,” where they must lay in bed.
  2. Examine the real reason your child is not napping. Is it inconvenience for the family schedule? Do they know you will give in if they fight it?
  3.  Set a definite bed time and do not push your child past it. We are all guilty of doing this occasionally. However, if this is happening often, it might be contributing to behavioral difficulties.
  4. Determine a routine for sleeping and waking. Examine your childes behavior to see if they might actually need more sleep
  5. Shut of electronics. I’m not going to lie this is a hard one. We have a half hour of TV time in our house that we use to wind down and get ready of bed. (Also I use it to get some cuddle time in.)
  6. Set a good example. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep as well.



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