Sleep and Sleep Disorders in Children and Teenagers

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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. Should your child be happy and thriving - but need more or fewer hours of sleep than indicated - rest assured they will remain healthy.

  1. 1 to 4 weeks old: Neonates spend approximately 65% 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 still sleep 14 to 15 hours a day. Many begin to develop a day-night cycle during the early weeks of this period. In addition 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 at this age continue to require 14 to 15 hours of sleep daily. Good news for parents, they do begin to sleep for longer 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 11 to 12 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 10 to 12 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 9 hours to 6 to 8 hours. The various social network computer websites coupled with cell phone text communication may also cut into the teenager's sleep time.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/15/2014

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Teenagers and Sleep Deprivation

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.