Studies show that insufficient sleep is associated with lower academic achievement, as well as higher rates of absenteeism and tardiness. “It is important to establish a good bedtime and sleep routine, with the child going to bed at the same time every night,” said Trey Brown, MD, central South Carolina’s only physician with subspecialty training in both pediatric pulmonology and pediatric sleep medicine.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently endorsed these guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine:
- Infants four months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children one to two years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children three to five years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children six to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
In addition to these recommendations, the AAP suggests that all screens be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime and that TV, computers and other screens not be allowed in children's bedrooms. For infants and young children, establishing a bedtime routine is important to ensuring children get adequate sleep each night.
Sleep problems are common in children, with 25-50 percent of all children experiencing some type of sleep problem. Problems can range from short-term difficulties in falling asleep and night waking, to more serious primary sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea or narcolepsy.
“It is extremely important to diagnose and treat sleep problems because they can result in cognitive impairment and behavioral problems, along with other issues such as worsened asthma control, hypertension and pulmonary hypertension,” said Brown. “Symptoms such as snoring, along with daytime sleepiness, ADHD, poor school performance, falling asleep in school, gasping, pauses in the breathing pattern, and enlarged tonsils should prompt a sleep study. If you have concerns, contact your child’s primary care physician.”
Many parents relax their children’s bedtime rules and sleep requirements during summer months. This can create a challenge for children who need to get back to a routine for the upcoming school year.