Children and Teens Need Their Sleep

smengelsrud / Pixabay

smengelsrud / Pixabay

Updated sleep recommendations for children and teens point to the benefits of getting enough sleep and the dangers of getting too little.

“At least 25% of 12-year-olds get less than the recommended nine hours of sleep per night and there is increasing evidence that this impacts learning and memory,

said Dr. Stuart F. Chan of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, a coauthor of the new American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) guidelines. The new recommendations, online now on the AASM website and scheduled for publication in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine,

“use a more rigorous evaluation of the scientific literature than was used previously,” Chan said. “The range of recommended hours of sleep for each age grouping is wider than before,” but the guideline still stresses that children and teenagers “need substantial amounts of sleep.”

For optimal health, children and teens should get the following hours of sleep (per 24 hours) on a regular basis: Infants four months to one year of age: 12-16 hours, including naps; Children one to two years old: 11-14 hours, including naps; Children three to five years old: 10-13 hours, including naps; Children six to 12 years old: 9-12 hours; Teenagers 13-18 years old: 8-10 hours.

Sleep disorders that keep youngsters from meeting these recommendations take a toll on their health, Chan notes. For example, he said,

sleep apnea is associated with poor school performance, mood and behavior problems, misdiagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and, if severe, potentially heart problems.”

Insomnia, which affects up to one in four adolescents and one in three preschoolers, is associated with “poor school performance, increased mood and health problems and risk of self-harm and suicidal ideation,” said Chan.

It’s also associated with increased risk of developing a new medical problem and starting the use of a new psychiatric medication. The biggest challenge is making sure the child has enough time in bed, Chan said.

“Frequently, a child or teen will not go to bed early enough or they are awakened too early. The reasons for this are varied, but revolve around family dynamics, social issues and, in the case of teens, school start times.”

Monday, June 20, 2016 / Vol. 24 / No. 24

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