Sleep and Sleep Disorders in Children and Teenagers

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

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Teens, Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

What's up with sleep? It may seem like a waste of time when you've got so much you want - and need - to do. But sleep can help you do better in school, stress less, and generally be more pleasant to have around. Sound good? Now consider some possible effects of not getting enough sleep:

  • Feeling angry or depressed
  • Having trouble learning, remembering, and thinking clearly
  • Having more accidents
  • Getting sick more often
  • Feeling less motivated
  • Possibly gaining weight
  • Having lower self-esteem

How much is enough?

Experts say most teens need a little more than nine hours of sleep each night. Only a tiny number get that much, though. Are you one of the lucky few who can manage with less? Or are you slipping up on sleep? Here are some ways to see if you're getting enough:

  • Do you have trouble getting up in the morning?
  • Do you have trouble focusing?
  • Do you sometimes fall asleep during class?

SOURCE: girlshealth.gov. Getting enough sleep.

Quick GuideChildren's Health Pictures Slideshow: Top Reasons Your Child Can't Sleep

Children's Health Pictures Slideshow: Top Reasons Your Child Can't Sleep

How much sleep do children need?

Just as with adults, the amount of sleep children need varies with both age and unique needs of the individual. Below are general guidelines for children of various ages. If your child is happy and thriving, but needs more or fewer hours of sleep than indicated below - rest assured they will remain healthy. The National Sleep Foundation's 2015 Guidelines recommend the following for sleep in children and teens.

  1. 1 to 4 weeks old: Neonates spend approximately 65% to 75% of their daily activity in a sleep state. Waking time is of short duration and it is rare for a child of this age to have a "day-night" cycle. Their day-night "clock" is not functional until 6 to 8 weeks of age. Mothers of newborns should use their infant's sleep pattern to sleep also.
  2. 1 to 4 months old: Infants at this early age require sleep 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day. Many begin to develop a day-night cycle during the early weeks of this period. At this age, many infants have the ability to sleep evening blocks of 5 to 6 hours without interruption; however most will wake for feedings or diaper changes during the night.
  3. 4 to 12 months old: Infants in this age range require 12 to 15 hours of sleep daily. Good news for parents - they begin to sleep for longer continuous periods at night. Also, early in this time period, many children benefit from multiple daytime naps, though there is significant variability between different infants.
  4. 1 to 3 years old: While specialists point out that most toddlers need about 12 to 14 hours of daily sleep, many may be forced to survive on less. Daycare and erratically spaced car trips necessary for the needs of older siblings often deny or disrupt continuous sleep patterns, most often naps.
  5. 3 to 6 years old: This age range commonly needs approximately 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day with younger individuals taking a nap after lunch. Any need for napping is generally absent by the time a child enters 1st grade.
  6. 7 to 12 years old: Younger children in this age range commonly require 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night; pre-teens often receive 9 to 10 hours (though some may require more).
  7. 12 to 18 years old: Middle and high school student lifestyle requirements (school, after school activities, dinner and finally homework) often reduce the sleep duration from the recommended 8 to 10 hours to 6 to 8 hours. The various social network computer websites coupled with cell phone text communication and television viewing also may cut into a teenager's sleep time.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/18/2015
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