What if someone told you there was one simple action you could take to improve your child’s mood, behavior, and success in school? What if this same action reduced his risk of developing diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even the common cold? Helping your child establish and maintain a sleep routine has a huge impact on all these areas. Research shows getting enough quality sleep is essential for growth and development, mental and physical health, and quality of life.
A word about sleep and weight: Consistently not getting enough sleep is associated with gaining weight and increased body fat. Quality and amount of sleep also plays a role in appetite regulation. A lack of sleep contributes to a bigger appetite and increasing cravings for carbohydrates.1 Ensuring your child is getting enough restful sleep will help him maintain a healthy weight.
How much sleep does my child need?
|Age||Recommended Amount of Sleep|
|Newborns||16–18 hours a day|
|Preschool-aged children||11–12 hours a day|
|School-aged children||At least 10 hours a day|
|Teens||9–10 hours a day|
|Adults (including the elderly)||7–8 hours a day|
(National Institutes of Health)
Technology making you tired? Exposure to bright artificial light in the evening from TV screens, smart phones, and other electronics disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep.2 Shutting off phones and other electronics at night will help your children get the restful sleep they need.
For other tips on how to ensure your child is getting an adequate amount of quality sleep, see our “Recipe for a Good Night’s Sleep.”
A Good Night’s Sleep
Prep time: 1 hour
|1 Consistent Bed Time
1 Bedtime Ritual
60 minutes of physical activity
1 cool, quiet, dark bedroom – make sure to remove the electronics before bed
1. Keep the same sleep schedule on school nights and weekends.
2. Reserve the hour before bed for quiet time. Avoid exercising and bright artificial lights from a TV, smartphone, etc. This hour should be spent doing a calming bedtime ritual each night that helps your child relax before bed, such as taking a hot bath or reading.
3. Avoid heavy meals and caffeine within a couple hours of bedtime.
4. Encourage your child to spend time outdoors and exercise during the day.
5. If your child tells you it is difficult to fall asleep due to worrying at bedtime, encourage him to write these feelings in a journal at a set time each day.
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” -Irish Proverb
By Christine McCaslin, MS, RN, CPNP
1 Morselli, L.L., Guyon, A., and Spiegel, K. (2012). Sleep and metabolic function. Pflügers Arch. 463(1):139-160.
2 National Institutes of Health. (2012). Sleep deprivation and deficiency. Accessed February 22, 2017 from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd