Kids Need for a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep deprivation isn't just a problem for adults. Children can struggle with it, too. A National Sleep Foundation (NSF) survey found 60 percent of children under age 18 complained of being tired during the day in the past year. Fifteen percent admitted falling asleep in school.

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. This can lead to problems in school.

Children of different ages have different sleep needs. The average 5- to 12-year old needs 10 to 11 hours of sleep, the NSF says. 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.

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.

  • Don't let them watch television right before bedtime.

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

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