Why do so many of us have problems with sleep? As a culture, it seems we undervalue sleep and rest, in general. Perhaps we feel to rest and get a full night’s sleep is lazy. “We need to get everything done. Who has time for sleep?” It’s taking a toll on us. It’s also taking a toll on our children. So often parents come to see me with concerns about their child’s behavior. “He won’t listen.” “She’s irritable and can’t sit still.” When I ask about sleep I often hear that the child is staying up very late, has no regular bedtime routine, or is 8 years old and still sleeping with his parents, usually his/her mother. The child and parents are all over tired. If we’re going to handle significant behavior issues, we have to first begin with basics. The child needs to be eating healthy food, getting plenty of exercise and fresh air, and enough sleep regularly. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Sleep Foundation recommends the following:
- Toddlers, 1-3 years old, should get 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
- Preschoolers, 3-5 years old, should get 11-13 hours of sleep per night.
- Kids 5-12 years old should get 10-11 hours per night.
- Teenagers should get 8.5-9 + hours per night.