Child Sleep Patterns

As children get older, they want to stay up later, but enhancing child sleep patterns is the key to improved cognitive thinking, behavior, mood, overall school performance and good health.

Do your kids consider it a rite of passage to get to stay up later? It’s okay to give in occasionally. But, giving in too often affects their school performance, ability to think clearly, moods, behavior, and overall health. Sleep problems can affect the executive functions of your child’s brain, which makes it hard for them to plan, focus, control impulses, and filter out distractions.

How Much Sleep Time?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that school-aged children should be sleeping between 9 and 12 hours at night. Teens need a little less sleep of about 8 to 10 hours. Child sleep times vary slightly between children, so look for signs that your child’s body is getting enough sleep. When they are tired, they should be able to fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes after going to bed. You should be able to wake them up easily for school with little or no reminders. Students that struggle to stay awake in class or take naps after school need more sleep at night.

Where To Get Help for Child Sleep Patterns:

It’s not enough to send kids to bed at their regular time. Parents need to be aware of whether they are getting quality, restful sleep, so they wake up refreshed and ready to learn. Your child’s pediatrician is the best source of finding solutions for kids that can’t sleep restfully at night.

Your child’s doctor will help you understand if your child’s sleep problems may be due to a physical condition or a mental health issue like ADHD, anxiety, depression, or autism. If child sleep problems persist, your pediatrician may order a consultation with a sleep expert or schedule an overnight sleep study.

To help your children sleep better, establish their bedrooms as a sleep jurisdiction. Take televisions and electronics out of their rooms. Get them involved in establishing better sleep patterns. Help them notice changes in their ability to function well in relation to how many hours they sleep.

Establish a regular bedtime and stick with it on weekends and holidays. As bedtime nears, settle into relaxing routines like taking warm baths and reading stories. Save high-energy activities and heavier meals for earlier in the day.  Forming good child sleep habits when children are young will be sure to follow them into later stages of their lives.


About Susan Gehrig, PhD

Susan Gehrig, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of Paradox Psychological Services located in Carlsbad. She has a passion for supporting the wellbeing of children and teens. Her expertise is in child mindfulness and self-compassion, cognitive behavioral therapy, and child development. Dr. Gehrig provides psychoeducational testing and therapy services to help build a plan for success. Paradox provides services for families of San Diego North County and greater areas.

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