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How much sleep does a child need? New guidelines spell it out

June 27, 2016


Lack of sleep can make children cranky, as all parents know, but exactly how much shut-eye do kids need?

In a first, a group of sleep doctors attempts to answer that question with new guidelines that spell out recommended sleep amounts for kids, broken down by their age.

Not surprisingly, babies need the most rest. Infants age 4 months to 1 year old should get between 12 and 16 hours of sleep a day, according to the guidelines issued this week by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Children 1 to 2 years old need 11 to 14 hours of sleep, while those between 3 and 5 are advised to sleep 10 to 13 hours a day. That includes both nightly rest and naps during the day.

Even as they get older, children need a generous block of time for sleep in order to function well, doctors say. The prescription for children ages 6 to 12 is 9 to 12 hours of sleep. And teenagers should sleep 8 to 10 hours each night, the guidelines advise.

Not getting enough ZZZs can lead to serious health problems for children — including obesity, depression and hypertension, doctors say. In addition, sleep deprivation has been known to increase suicidal thoughts in teenagers.

The new recommendations for sleep were endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which also issued its own advice on a related topic — screen time for kids. Devices such as smartphones, tablets and televisions contribute to lack of sleep in children, who often find it difficult to disconnect from their screens at night, the APA said, To minimize sleep disruptions, the academy advises parents to remove all screens from children’s bedrooms and to turn off devices 30 minutes before children’s bedtime.

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McClatchy-Tribune Information Services