Healthy Sleep

Healthy Amounts of Sleep for Children

Adequate sleep is recognized as a pillar of physical and mental health. The amount of sleep children get affects not only how much energy they have but also their abilities to learn and stay healthy.

There are four components to healthy sleep for children:
  • quality
  • quantity/amount of sleep for the child’s age, including daytime
    and nighttime
  • positioning (bumpers, wedges, co-sleeping, flat surface)
  • environment (home life factors, presence of stress, parental marital discord, establishment of routines, room temperature/noise levels/darkness)
Healthy sleep is necessary for:
  • Consolidation of cognitive performance, required for executive functioning, abstract reasoning, goal-directed behavior, and creative processing
  • Operation of overnight brain processes thought to influence cognitive, physical, and emotional regulation during the day
Unhealthy sleep is associated with:
  • an increased risk for overweight and obesity
  • mood disorders
  • overtiredness, poor response time, costly behaviors, driving accidents, and alcohol/cigarette/marijuana use
  • aggression, depression, anxiety, inattention, overactivity, internalizing, problem behaviors, and psychosomatic symptoms
  • poor school performance, learning capacity, and neurobehavioral function
Related Articles

Sleep Habits in Children Studies

Learn more about the importance of children and sleep and how it affects abilities to learn and stay healthy.

Never Enough Sleep: A Brief History of Sleep Recommendations for Children PEDIATRICS (2012)
This study describes historical trends in recommended and actual sleep durations for children and adolescents, and explores the rationale of sleep recommendations.

Media Use and Child Sleep: The Impact of Content, Timing and Environment PEDIATRICS (2011)
Media use has been shown to negatively affect a child's sleep, especially in the context of evening use or with a television in the child's bedroom. Little is known about how content choices and adult co-use affect this relationship. This study describes the impact of media content, timing and use on child sleep.

Short Sleep Duration and Behavioral Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Healthy 7- to 8-Year-Old Children (PDF)
This study evaluates whether short sleep is associated with behavioral symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in 7- to 8-year-old children.

Handouts & Resources

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