October 22, 2020
As a parent, you are probably very familiar with the phrase: "Go to sleep!" You might have to say this once or 20 times every night. We know that sleep is important, especially for kids and teens. We talked with one of our experts on sleep disorders, Dr. Supriya Jambhekar about why sleep is important and how many ZZZs children need. Here's what she had to say.
Based on what is known about how the body works, studies have shown there is an average amount of sleep that is recommended for optimal health and wellbeing. However, the amount of sleep may be different for each person based on genetic and environmental factors. In 2016, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine put forth a consensus statement regarding sleep requirements in children (Paruthi et al., 2016)
“Sleep is essential for a healthy life, and it is important to promote healthy sleep habits in early childhood,” said Dr. Shalini Paruthi, fellow of the AASM.
For children, it is difficult for them to recognize when they are tired and often are unable to clearly verbalize that they are not getting enough sleep.
Symptoms that are often seen when they aren't getting enough sleep at night includes:
Insufficient sleep can also increase the risk of accidents, injuries, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and depression.
Once you know about how many hours they need subtract it from the time that they need to wake up. For example, if your child requires 10 hours of sleep, and they have to wake up at 6 a.m. daily to go to school, then the optimal bedtime would be 8 p.m. Next, discuss with them (depending on age) acceptable bedtimes and wake up times and create a bedtime routine that can be done every night. It is important to have a consistent routine. Children, especially, thrive with routine and knowing their expectations.
Having a routine can greatly improve health. Studies have shown that consistent routines during early childhood lead to better cognitive performance, reduced behavior problems, decreased anxiety, and can even improve gastrointestinal concerns as our digestive systems become activated in advance of regular meal times in order to more efficiently process food.
First thing is to figure out what the actual issue is. This will require some detective work. Filling out a two week sleep diary would be extremely helpful for both you and ultimately your child's pediatrician if you have additional concerns.
Here is a list of things to look at when your child isn’t sleeping well.