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Established Sleep Habits May Lower Chances Of Obesity, Improve Health Of Your Child

AAP endorses sleep guidelines for children

Want a simple way to decrease your children’s risk of ADHD, injuries, high blood pressure, obesity and depression?

Make sure they get enough sleep.

A new study, published in the Journal of Obesity, found that routines for preschool-aged children are tied to better emotional health and may lower the chances of obesity later.

The American Academy of Sleep, supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, has released the following recommendations for how much sleep kids, from infants to teens, need based on their age:

  • Infants 4 to 12 months – 12 to 16 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
  • Children 1 to 2 years – 11 to 14 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
  • Children 3 to 5 years – 10 to 13 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
  • Children 6 to 12 years -9 to 12 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
  • Teens 13 to 18 years – 8 to 10 hours of sleep every 24 hours.

The AAP found that adequate sleep duration for age on a regular basis leads to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life and mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep each night could mean an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression, "especially for teens who may experience increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts."

Hilary Pearson, M.D., medical director of the sleep laboratory at Cook Children’s, said parents often set the tone for their child’s sleep patterns.

“One way of protecting your kids’ sleep is protecting your own sleep,” Dr. Pearson said. “Parents should think about how much sleep they get and then recognize how much sleep their children are actually getting. That alone can be very helpful.”

If your child is not sleeping well, Dr. Pearson says most of the time there are simple things that parents can do to make a difference in their kids’ sleep.

“I’m a firm believer in establishing a bedtime and sticking to it. Children who have not reached puberty should be in bed before 9 p.m. Studies show they will sleep better overnight, wake up more easily in the morning and have fewer behavioral problems. A routine that simple could make the difference in whether a child receives good grades at school,” Dr. Pearson said.

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