Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to many problems in children, including mood swings, behavioral issues, cognitive problems, and an increased risk for being overweight. For teens, sleep deprivation can cause more serious problems such as driving accidents and emotional issues.
Early Childhood Sleep Routines
Early childhood educators should implement practices that adhere to age-appropriate sleep schedules and provide settings that are conducive to naptime. Some suggestions for helping young kids sleep better during the day:
- Create an environment that ensures restful sleep, such as low noise and light levels during napping
- Provide a separate napping room, or naptime cots, or mats for children’s sleep time
- Encourage a calming nap routine
- Promote practices that help self-regulation, such as putting infants to sleep drowsy but awake
- Seek consultation yearly from an expert on healthy children’s sleep durations and practices
(Source: Institute of Medicine)
Older Children and Sleep
The recommended hours of sleep for children 5 to 10 years old is at least 10 hours, and kids 10 to 17 years old need at least 8 ½ hours. However, they may not be getting the sleep they need. There are increasing demands on children’s time such as: school, homework, sports and other extracurricular activities, and social time with family and friends.
In addition, older kids become more interested in TV, computers, media, and the internet as well as caffeine, all of which can lead to difficulty falling asleep, nightmares, and disruptions to sleep. (Source: National Sleep Foundation: Sleep for Kids)