Daniel S. Lewin, PhD, D'ABSM, a pediatric psychologist, sleep specialist, and licensed clinical psychologist at Children’s National Health System speaks about how sleep affects behavior.
A healthy sleep schedule is important for many children and teens to remain alert and aware. According to a sleep study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, an estimated 64 percent of school-aged children (ages 6 to 12) go to bed later than 9 p.m., and 43 percent of boys ages 10 to 11 sleep less than the recommended amount each night. It is essential that parents observe and monitor their child’s sleeping schedule to ensure they are not suffering from lack of sleep.
Oversleeping is not a problem, but is an important indicator that you child is probably not sleeping for an adequate amount of time on a consistent basis. In rarer cases, oversleeping, meaning every day for more than a few days, can be a sign of mood disturbance such as depression.
All human beings have relatively set sleep needs that differ across development. Knowing how much sleep your child needs is important and will help you establish a regular sleep period that is age appropriate in terms of duration and timing.
Sleep duration by age
- Infants and toddlers may sleep 10-12 hours
- School-aged children sleep about 10 hours
- Adolescents and teens sleep approximately eight to nine hours
These times are relative as some children are short sleepers and some are longer sleepers.
Lack of sleep
Lack of sleep on a short term basis can cause over-activity, inattention, irritability, and increased risk of injury. Chronic sleep deprivation results in all of these problems and depressed mood. In very long term cases it will also cause long term health problems.
How to regulate sleep schedules
- Establish a regular routine
- Ensure a child’s sleep period does not vary more than 30 minutes for school-age children and 1.5 hours for adolescents on weekdays versus weekends
- Eliminate all electronics within 30-60 minutes of the target bedtime