We spend nearly a third of our lives sleeping. It may feel like a waste of time, but it may be helpful to think of sleep as an investment in your physical and emotional energy. Sleep gives your brain and body a chance to recover from the day and get ready for tomorrow.
How much sleep do you and your children get each night? Do you notice your child yawning a lot? Does your teenager resist going to bed on time? Do your children have trouble paying attention in school, or struggle to learn new concepts? Have you noticed forgetfulness, clumsiness, low motivation, or changes in your child’s mood?
Not getting enough sleep makes us irritable, impatient, and distracted. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body becomes weak, our memory fails, our reaction time slows down, and our immune system weakens.
The amount of sleep that we need changes as we age, The National Sleep Foundation provided the following hourly recommendations:
- Newborns (0 to 3 months): 14 to 17 hours each day
- Infants (4 to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours
- Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours
- School-age children (6 to 13 years): 9 to 11 hours
- Teenagers (14 to 17 years): 8 to 10 hours
- Adults (18 to 64 years): 7 to 9 hours
- Older adults (over 65 years): 7 to 8 hours
Tips for Better Sleep
When preparing for sleep at night, we rarely realize that the hours before sleep are really what prepares us for bedtime. The National Sleep Foundation also offers the following tips for a better night’s sleep:
- Have a consistent bedtime routine, every day, for every member of your family, beginning early in the evening.
- To get your children to bed on time, plan and schedule all activities and homework to be finished before the bedtime routine. Encourage physical activities and exercise after school but avoid strenuous activity late at night.
- Turn off all screens two hours before bedtime. The light emitted by TVs, cell phones and tablets make us more alert and gets in the way of feeling sleepy.
- Make each person’s bedroom an ideal environment for sleep. A cool room around 65 degrees is better for sleep than a warm room. A clean room is less distracting than a messy room. A quiet house is easier to sleep in than a noisy one.
- Most people fall asleep within 20 minutes of laying down. When your mind is quiet, allow 20 minutes to fall asleep, and avoid checking the clock. Know that it is normal to wake up in the middle of the night. Take care of your needs, and then go back to bed.
Learning about healthy sleep habits can make a difference for you and your children. Below are a list of resources on creating healthy sleep habits for you and your family.
- What is Sleep Hygiene?
- How can my child get more sleep?
- Sleep suggestions for new parents from the Mayo Clinic
- Benefits of sleep from the Harvard Medical School
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 50 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.