Adequate sleep

Dr. Riham Ammar
Specialist Paediatrician
Mediclinic Al Sufouh

IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP TO CHILDREN

Restful sleep is essential for the growth and development of children.

In early childhood, the sleep requirement is much more than in adulthood as the speed of development is much higher during this stage than at any other time in life.

While a child is sleeping, many vital physical and mental processes take place that contribute to healthy development and growth. Deep sleep is when the vital release of growth hormones takes place to stimulate the growth of long bones, cartilage and tissues.

Sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, making children more susceptible to illness.

Children who get enough sleep are less prone to behaviour problems and moodiness. They often develop better memory, concentration and longer attention spans.

How much is enough sleep?

Many parents ask whether their child is sleeping enough or too much. That’s not a simple answer and varies from child to child and even from day to day depending on the age, physical activity, condition of the child and the surrounding environment.

Generally speaking, the table below gives an average of the numbers of hours of sleep needed according to the age.

Age

Hours of sleep per day

Birth

                       16 to 18 hours

First 6 months

                       14 to 16 hours

6 to 12 months

                       13 to 14 hours

12 months to 2 years

                       12 to 13 hours

2 to 6 years

                       10 to 13 hours

6 to 12 year

                       9 to 11 hours

12 to 18 years 

                       About 10 hours

Adults

                       About 8 hours

Parents should enforce a sleep schedule and routine for their children, and ensure it is adhered to, even on the weekend and during holidays to ensure a continuation of a good sleep pattern.

This sleep schedule and routine varies according to the child’s age and how much sleep he or she need each day.