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Kids Need a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep deprivation isn't just a problem for adults. Children can struggle with it, too.

Why sleep is vital

With poor or insufficient sleep, children can experience mood swings and have behavior problems. They can have increased hyperactivity and trouble with cognition (thinking and maintaining attention). This can lead to problems in school. This can lead to problems in school.

Children of different ages have different sleep needs. According to the NSF, the average 5- to 12-year old needs 10 to 11 hours of sleep. Teens should get 8½ to 9½ hours.

In the teen years, a child's internal clock resets itself. That creates a biological desire to stay up later and sleep later. Getting up for school early in the morning often results in sleep deprivation that accumulates. 

Even among otherwise careful parents, getting enough sleep is often overlooked.

Tips for sleep

Here are tips to help your child get a good night's rest:

  • Keep kids away from caffeine, including colas and other caffeinated drinks.

  • Maintain the same sleep schedule on weekends as on weekdays.

  • Make sure kids spend time outdoors daily.

  • Get children to engage in regular exercise, but avoid heavy exercise within 2 to 3 hours of sleep. 

  • Don't let them watch television before bedtime.

  • Establish a bedtime routine that includes a wind-down period.

  • Put restrictions on their computer or tablet use before bedtime. 

  • If your child takes medication, consider the effects of that medication on sleep. Some medications should be taken earlier in the day.



Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 01/04/2014
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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