Ever wonder how many hours of sleep your child needs?

Sleep habits are different in each family – based on the parents work hours and general habits of waking early or waking late. My personal experience has been that in the US my daughter’s bed time would be around 8 to 8:30 pm. On vacations in India, this automatically changes to a 10 pm bedtime, just because there is more excitement at our home in India post 8 pm than here. My father would arrive home at 9 pm and my daughter would eagerly await him so she could play with her grandfather.

Again, my experience has been that if my daughter gets less sleep than she needs – either due to lack of naps or not enough sleep at night – she is usually a crankier person and maybe even a little irrational. All moms know this and scientific studies support this.

So how much sleep do kids really need? Are naps really necessary? Should we be waking up our kids early everyday? or letting them stay up late?

This is a chart from Mayo Clinic regarding how much sleep kids need including naps.

What are the consequences of less sleep?

Lack of sleep can lead to many issues. There is a lack of attentiveness in school, more negative emotions during the day, more hunger – hence obesity etc. Read here for a full scientific look at sleep. Also, the ‘terrible twos’ have been linked not only to the difficulty that toddlers find in communicating but also to inadequate sleep.

How do we figure out if they are getting enough sleep?

The range will differ as per the individual too. Not all infants need 11 hours of sleep, and some may need only 9. But sleep deprivation in babies can result in medical and behavioral problems as adults.

Here are some possible signs:

  1. Falls asleep in the car immediately
  2. More cranky in the late afternoon – early evening
  3. Might appear really over-active and unable to sit still
  4. Clingier than usual
  5. General crankiness and tantrums
  6. Rubbing eyes

In my experience, tantrums and other issues have always had roots in lack of sleep. Solving the sleep issue solves a lot of the other daily challenges.

Follow this link for What Science Says about the Importance of Naps

featured image:http://www.flickr.com/photos/premnath


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