The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) lent their support this month to the sleep guidelines of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) for infants to teens.
The recommended amounts of sleep needed regularly within a 24-hour period weren’t really new. But I was grateful for another boost in parents’ awareness of the importance of sleep for our kids.
Gail and I coach a lot of young parents. And although subjects of concern may vary, it’s amazing how many can be traced back to a lack of sleep in kids.
Sleep is important for so many things and impacts physical healing, mood, attention and learning, behavior, weight control, to name just a few. I’m firmly convinced the majority of adults in America are sleep deprived. And it troubles me that so many of our kids may be.
Here’s a quick summary of the AASM guidelines for hours of sleep needed regularly per 24 hours for infants to teens:
- 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
- 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
- 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
- 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
- Teens 13-18 years: 8-10 hours
No doubt you’ve already done a quick comparison to your family’s sleep times. Hopefully you’re doing good. Perhaps you can improve.
But the first thing to do is accept responsibility for your kids’ sleep. They won’t do it by themselves without your direction and help in establishing good sleep habits.
4 Ways To Improve Your Kids’ Sleep
- Establish firm bedtimes and wake up times. The best sleep happens when our bodies get into a rhythm. Too often kids don’t get sufficient sleep because bedtimes are flexible and negotiable. I was far too lenient for a big part of our child-rearing years. My wife was a strong proponent of set bedtimes and it was a frequent contention point between us. I was wrong. She was right. Parents need to prioritize their kids’ sleep over schedule. Plan accordingly.
Winding down bedtime routines. It’s hard to be rough-housing, watching TV, or whatever right up until bedtime and expect to quickly fall into a restful sleep.. Even the AAP recommends turning off all screens 30 minutes before bed. Gail has written on other great recommendations for stress-free bedtime routines.
Eliminate distractions. Make sure your child’s bedroom is conducive to good sleep. Sufficient room-darkening blinds for the windows. A comfortable, cool temperature. No TV’s, computers, iPads or iPods. A sound machine with white noise such as the sound of rain, a waterfall, or fan helps mask random ambient noise from the rest of the house.
Train and reward to stay in bed. Particularly when kids are young, they can be prone to get up or call you back after being put to bed. They feel they need to tell you something, have to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, etc. Build these things into your tuck-in routine and insist on them staying in bed. We’ve used rewards such as quarters or stars on a checklist for short-term reinforcement. Teach younger kids to stay in bed in the morning until your approved time. Gail has been recommending the Gro-Clock Sleep Trainer for kids who can’t yet tell time.
Do your kids—and yourself—a favor by establishing routines to improve their quantity and quality of sleep.
Question: What resources/techniques has helped you help your kids get the sleep they need? Share your answer in the comments below.