How Sleep Affects Children’s Health

          A normal sleep routine is critical to child development and establishing a healthy lifestyle. In fact, sleep is one of the primary activities in early development of children and is an indispensable part of success. An adequate sleep schedule has shown to improve attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental/physical health in school-aged children. In addition to this, when a child is not getting the right amount of sleep, their immune system will not be able to fight off infections.

          Establishing sleep routines can be difficult. While some children have no issues falling asleep at night, it can take others longer to fall and stay asleep. To aid in setting regular sleep routines, Dr. Rachel Dawkins from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital recommends implementing “wind down” activities in the household before bedtime approaches, such as: limited electronic use, limited caffeine and sugar intake, dim lights, have your child take a warm bath, read a book.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has proposed the following ideal sleep recommendations for children:

  • Under 1 year: 12-16 hours
  • 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
  • 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
  • 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
  • 13-18 years: 8-10 hours

          After you have established the sleep schedule that is ideal for your child, it is important to stick to that schedule. When bedtime differs every night kids can start to feel “jet-lagged”, which ultimately influences performance in daily activities. Implementing a calm pre-bedtime routine from a young age will reduce sleep disruptions throughout the night, and improve sleep habits overall. It’s important for the bedtime ritual to be similar every night in order for the brain to know it’s time for sleep.

          If you child is experiencing any issues with establishing sleep routines, or is exhibiting behavior difficulties you think may be linked to sleep deprivation, contact their Primary Care Pediatrician. For more information on how sleep affects your child’s health, contact the Your Kid’s Urgent Care office nearest you.