Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

Dr. Irina Trosman is an attending physician at Lurie Children’s who specializes in sleep disorders in children. Here, she shares some factors that may be affecting your child’s sleep:

How Many Hours of Sleep Do Kids Need?

Although each child is different, the total amount of recommended sleep for children varies by age:

  • Infants (0–3 months): 14–17 hours
  • Infants (4–12 months: 12–16 hours
  • Toddlers (1–2 years): 11–14 hours
  • Preschool (3–5 years): 10–13 hours
  • School-age (6–13 years): 9–12 hours
  • Teens (14–17 years): 8–10 hours

Factors That Affect Sleep

Puberty changes the biological clock. Adolescents going through puberty begin to develop a “night-owl” pattern of sleep. They have more difficulties falling asleep at night. They are subsequently harder to wake up in the morning. This can cause a lot of frustration, especially during school year.

Screen time diminishes sleep quality. Too much exposure to video screens at bedtime can affect the production of melatonin, a natural hormone that tells the body when it’s time to sleep. Screen time can even trick the brain into thinking it is daytime, which makes kids and teens feel energized even when their bodies are tired.

Students’ schedules may be overloaded. Kids will sometimes go to bed way too late to catch up on homework, or even wake up even earlier than normal to catch up on homework

Healthy Sleep Habits

Building healthy sleep habits takes time and effort. Dr. Trosman recommends beginning with these steps:

Create a nightly routine.

Making a ritual out of relaxing activities before bed helps the body prepare for quality sleep, Dr. Trosman says. Encourage your child or teen to read a book, take a bath, listen to music or do something that calms them before they fall asleep. Parents can help set a good example by doing this as well.

Put down electronics at least 45 minutes before bed.

In addition to screens’ energizing light, the content available on social media can affect the user’s mood, which in turn affects sleep quality, according to Dr. Trosman. Avoid this interruption entirely by making a family-wide rule of no phones, tablets, computers, or other electronics during the 45 minutes or so leading up to bedtime. Negotiate with teens. Even 20-30 min of “down time” before bedtime is better than nothing.

Allow time to adjust.

It may take up to two weeks for the body to adjust to a new sleep schedule, Dr. Trosman says. Gradually go to bed earlier and set an earlier alarm. Change is incremental, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t notice a transformation after one night’s sleep.

About the Pediatric Sleep Center at Lurie Children’s

The Sleep Medicine Center at Lurie Children’s provides clinical evaluation, diagnosis and management of children with all forms of sleep disorders. Sleep disorders treated by our staff include sleep-disordered breathing, sleep apnea, nightmares, insomnia, parasomnias, narcolepsy and circadian rhythm disorders. Since its opening in 1995, the sleep specialists have seen more than 5,000 patients, and more than 14,000 patient studies have been conducted.

Learn more about the Sleep Medicine Center

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