It is National Sleep Awareness Week and a good time to review how important good sleep is to the overall health of school-age children. Children’s sleep specialists see sleep as critical to kids’ physical, mental, and social growth and development.
How much sleep is enough? Sleep needs vary with age – but surprisingly little! For children ages 6-13, 9-11 hours is the target, and by senior high school this only drops to 8-10 hours.
What are the consequences of insufficient sleep? Children who do not get enough sleep can suffer from difficulty learning, inattention, and hyperactivity. Some specialists feel that a diagnosis of ADHD should not be made until a good sleep evaluation has been done. Poor sleep also contributes to obesity, anxiety and depression, stimulant abuse, and (among teens) increased traffic accidents.
What causes poor sleep in kids? While most of us have heard about “good sleep hygiene” (consistent bed- and wake-times, no electronics in bed, no caffeine, no exercise right before bed, etc.), there are many conditions that can contribute to sleep problems for kids. If children and teens do not respond to efforts of improved sleep hygiene, they should be seen by their primary health care provider for further guidance. Some kids will benefit from having a formal sleep study done by a Pediatric Sleep Medicine specialist. Your healthcare provider can work with you to determine whether that is necessary.
Please pay attention to your kids’ sleep. It is a critical part of a healthy childhood!
Submitted by Dr. David Ammend, Pediatrician for Northwest Passage
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