It’s that time again: time for new sleep guidelines from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). Every so often, the AASM releases recommendations for healthy child sleep; now, we have their 2016 recommendations. Let’s take a look!
How Much Sleep Do Babies and Toddlers Need?
Our team looked at this area of the report first, and we were very pleased to learn that our sleep plan recommendations line up exactly with the recommended sleep totals from the AASM:
- Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
Why Is Good Baby and Toddler Sleep Important?
We’ve written about this quite a bit before and were very pleased to see that the new AASM recommendations reiterate the importance of quality sleep while also warning about the dangers of chronic sleep deprivation. From the report:
The group 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 is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression, especially for teens who may experience increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
We would add to this that, among parents of young children, “adequate sleep” can sometimes bec considered an afterthought or an unattainable goal. In reality, however, all babies and toddlers CAN learn to sleep soundly and nap consistently with some gentle sleep coaching from mom or dad. Even better, when you prioritize sleep early on in your child’s life, you create a foundation for lifelong healthy sleep habits that will benefit your child well into their adult years.
And speaking of healthy sleep habits, this brings us to the final recommendation from the AASM….
Why “Screens Off” Is A Key Part Of Healthy Sleep Hygiene
There are many elements that make up healthy sleep “hygiene”, including….
- …having a comfortable, dim, noise-free sleep environment.
- …establishing healthy pre-sleep routines.
- …limiting (or eliminating) high-sugar foods close to bedtime.
- …enjoying relaxing, quiet activities right before bed.
Interestingly, however, the AASM prioritizes one sleep hygiene recommendation above all others:
In addition to these recommendations, the AAP suggests that all screens be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime and that TV, computers and other screens not be allowed in children’s bedrooms.
Why the focus on eliminating screens from the bedroom and minimizing screen time right before bed? Perhaps because we are living in the most “wired” society in human history! Your family (children included) is no doubt surrounded by screens of all shapes and sizes all day long. But in truth, TV and sleep just do not mix. It’s so crucial, then, that limited screen time and no screens in the bedroom be an integral part of your family’s sleep routines.