Sleep Important for All Ages - How Much Sleep Do We Need?
Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
My kids, ages 9 and 13, are so exhausted after school, that they take an hour nap after dinner, watch some TV, then stay up late to finish their homework, sometimes until 11pm. They get up at 6am in order for me to get them to daycare before school starts. They have been bickering a lot lately, and I wonder if they need more sleep or is this normal sibling behavior?
At Wit's End
Dear At Wit's End,
Seven hours of sleep is not enough for your kids. Getting enough sleep is beneficial in many ways. Academic performance, stress, irritability, and other problems improve with adequate sleep.
I would explain to your children about the importance of getting enough sleep. They need to cut out the naps and TV and be in bed by 8 or 9pm. This would give them 9-10 hours of sleep. If they are still tired after coming home from school, then they need even more sleep.
Sleep is important for all ages. Children need to sleep more than adults. Sleep varies by individuals, but on average the National Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org) gives the following rule-of-thumb:
Newborns (0-2 months): 12-18 hours
Infants (3-11 months) : 14-15 hours
Toddlers (1-3 years) : 12-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years): 11-13 hours
School-age children (5-10 years): 10-11 hours
Teens (10-17 years): 8.5-9.25 hours
Adults: 7-9 hours
One way to find out the optimal amount of sleep your kids need is, on the weekend, they need to get in bed at the usual time, say by 9pm, and sleep for as long as they want. The length of time they sleep is probably what they need.