Parents who are always on their teens’ cases for Saturday-morning laziness may want to rethink their behavior. Unless your kid hits the sack before midnight, an 8 a.m. wakeup-call is too early, according to new research. Previous studies have shown that children who go to bed one hour earlier for five nights in a row are less irritable and have longer attention spans.
For toddlers especially, a bedtime before 10 p.m. is linked to improved motor function, language, and social skills. Now, new guidelines published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine and backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are taking the guesswork out of exactly how much sleep kids need at each age.
The sleep patterns of newborns vary greatly, but for children older than 4 months, CBS News reports, sleep experts recommend the following cumulative hours of sleep, including naps, for every 24 hours:
Infants 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours
Children 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours
Children 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours
Children 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours
Teens 13 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours
“We should get away from the idea that sleep is for slackers. It’s something important to make you function during the day…we need to respect that,” consensus paper author and pulmonologist Lee Brooks, M.D., told CBS News.
What can parents do to ensure their child gets a good night of shut-eye? The AAP recommends the following:
Maintain a structured bedtime routine
Turn off all electronic screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime
Keep televisions, computers, phones and gaming consoles out of kids’ bedrooms
“Sleep is an active state, not a dormant one,” said Maida Chen, M.D., director of the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center at Seattle Children’s. “Your body and mind perform some very important, basic functions only during sleep.”