Children and Sleep: How much is enough?

Expert panel publishes recommendations for sleep and optimal health

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has issued a consensus statement which, for the first time ever, recommends the amount of sleep needed to promote optimal health in children and teenagers to avoid the health risks of insufficient sleep.

The AASM consensus statement is published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine atired facend is the result a 10-month project conducted by a 13-member Paediatric Consensus panel.

The experts reviewed 864 published scientific articles which addressed the relationship between sleep duration and health in children.

Commenting on the research, Consensus Panel moderator and fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Dr. Shalini Paruthi said “Sleep is essential for a healthy life, and it is important to promote healthy sleep habits in early childhood.” Dr Paruthi continued “It is especially important as children reach adolescence to continue to ensure that teens are able to get sufficient sleep.”

The Consensus Panel reported that insufficient sleep was found to be associated with increased risk of accidents, injuries, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and depression – whilst in teenagers, lack of sleep was linked to increased risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

The consensus statement’s recommendations of sleep duration for the promotion of optimal health are as follows:

  • Infants four to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps).

  • Children one to two years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps).

  • Children three to five years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps).

  • Children six to 12 years of age should sleep nine to 12 hours per 24 hours.

  • Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep eight to 10 hours per 24 hours.

Sleeping the number of recommended hours on a regular basis was found by the panel to be associated with overall better health sleeping toddleroutcomes including: improved attention, behaviour, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health.

Striking a more cautious tone, the panel note that regularly sleeping more than the recommended hours may be associated with adverse health outcomes such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and mental health problems. It was also noted that the benefits of healthy sleep require not only adequate sleep duration, but also appropriate timing, daily regularity, good sleep quality and the absence of sleep disorders.

The Consensus Panel’s recommendations have now been endorsed by the American Academy of Paediatrics, the Sleep Research Society and the American Association of Sleep Technologists.

To explore non-pharmaceutical options to help with poor sleep, just drop-in to the sleep and insomnia section of our main website here, or take a look through the whole of our website, starting at the home page here


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