Sleeping tips for your family

Every child is different, but there are certain basic principles that can guide parents in ensuring that their children have sound sleep habits. The average number of hours of sleep needed varies by the age of the child. A ballpark figure is 11-12 hours nightly for 5 to 7 year-olds, 10-11 hours for 8 to 11 year-olds, and about 9.5 hours for 12-14 year-olds. Of course this is just an average, and any individual child may require more or less than this.

To determine if your child is sleep deprived please consider this:

  • Can your child fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes after going to bed in a comfortable, quiet environment?
  • Does your child awaken easily in the morning when he or she needs to?
  • Is your child alert during the day without napping? Check with the teacher to be sure.

It is unlikely that your child is seriously lacking sleep if you answer yes to these questions.

To build good sleep habits, follow these guidelines:

  • Establish a routine at bedtime.
  • Avoid exercise, TV or video games before bed. Quiet activities such as reading or drawing are better for transitioning to a restful state.
  • Try to keep a consistent schedule.
  • For many kids keeping bedtime and wake time consistent can help prevent or resolve sleep problems. Although it is tempting to let kids sleep late on the weekend after staying up late the night before, it may lead to difficulty falling asleep on Sunday night and a very sleepy Monday.
  • Encourage physical activity every day.
  • Avoid caffeine in children. This includes colas, energy drinks, coffee, black or green tea (iced or hot), and Mountain Dew.
  • Finally, if you have concerns about sleep in your own child, it is best to consult your family physician or pediatrician for help.