Sleep plays a critical role in the physical and mental health of your child. A lack of sleep can cause a wide range of issues, including behavioral problems and impaired learning. TexomaCare pediatrician Rosalind Lopez, MD, shares her insights on how much sleep your child needs, tips for sleeping better and more.
Q: How much sleep does my child need?
That depends on the age of your child. In general, infants, children and teenagers need more sleep than adults to support their physical and mental development. While each child is different, newborns (0-3 months) need about 14-17 hours of sleep; infants (4-11 months) need 12-15 hours; toddlers (1-2 years) need 11-14 hours; preschoolers (3-5 years) need 10-13 hours; school-aged children (6-13 years) need 9-11 hours; and teenagers (14-17) need 8-10 hours. Young adults (18-25 years) usually need about 7-9 hours to feel fully rested.
Q: Could my child have sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that causes pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while sleeping. Snoring is the most common sign of sleep apnea. You may also notice your child snorting or gasping for air during the night. In addition, your child might feel tired during the day or have difficulty paying attention at school. It’s important to talk to your pediatrician if you believe your child might have sleep apnea. Untreated, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart problems and poor growth.
Q: Is screen time affecting my teen’s sleep?
An increased amount of screen time has been linked to insomnia in adolescents. This is because many electronic devices emit an artificial blue light that can suppress melatonin, which is the body’s sleep-inducing hormone. LED lights and fluorescent bulbs can have the same effect. If your teen is struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, you should try limiting their overall screen time, especially before bed. This can help them fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality.
Q: How can I help my child sleep better?
In addition to limiting electronic use, there are many ways to create a positive sleep environment for your child. Following a consistent bedtime routine and setting a reasonable bedtime can help your child get quality sleep. Creating a comfortable place to sleep is also important. Make sure your child’s room is quiet, dark and reasonably cool. Physical activity, such as biking, hiking or sports, can help your child use up energy during the day and sleep better later at night.