Iowa Sleep Blog

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

Monday, May 09, 2016

Sleep. It’s one of those things we dreaded as children, look forward to as adults, and is absolutely essential to allow our bodies to function at their highest level. But, it’s not always easy to convince young children to go down for a nap or get ready for bed each night. By the time a child turns two, most have spent more time sleeping than awake. According the National Sleep Foundation, a child will spend 40 percent of their childhood asleep, and rightfully so. While we are asleep, our bodies work their magic to archive memories, store learned information, and tidy up our mental outlook by relieving stress and anxiety. When young children sleep, their bodies need the time to do all these things and to facilitate growth the body needs.

Is my child sleeping enough?

No matter what age, children need more sleep than adults to allow their bodies to keep up with the immense growth and other changes going on. An easy rule of thumb, if your child wakes up relatively easy in the morning and does not have melt-down in the afternoon (which is usually a sign they need a nap), they are probably well-rested. Below are the recommended sleep times per age group from the National Sleep Foundation.

  • Newborns: 14-17 hours
  • Infants: 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers: 11-14 hours
  • Pre-school age: 10-13 hours
  • School age: 9-11 hours

What else can I do to get them sleep?

There is no secret key to getting your children to sleep well, but we’ve provided some tips below from our staff to help you get your children sleeping well.

  • Keep up playtime – Don’t discredit the power of playtime. Feel free to let your children go wild with playing and exploring. This will ensure that they will be tired by time bedtime rolls around. When the weather is nice, try to push them outside. The natural light will help to sync up their natural body clocks.
  • Limit screen time – Within three hours of bedtime, really work to limit their exposure to electronic screens, such as tablets, computers and televisions. The blue light emitted by the screens triggers the brain to energize, keeping them up when they should be feeling sleepy.
  • Create a (relaxing) routine – Doing the same things over and over before bedtime each night, such as having bath time and story time before tucking them in. This routine can help them connect these activities with bedtime, hopefully making bedtime easier. If they start to resist the routine, consider how you are approaching it. If you are frustrated, your child will sense your emotion and feel uneasy as well.

Sleep is extremely important to helping your little ones play, learn and mature throughout their day. If you think your child is not sleeping well, consider talking with your doctor and ask if a sleep consultation could help or send us your questions with our easy online form.