New age-specific sleep recommendations for children

Children who don’t get adequate rest are at risk for health problems ranging from diabetes to depression, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which recently issued age-specific sleep recommendations.

“Recharging your brain is similar to turning your computer off and turning it back on,” said Beth Malow, M.D., M.S., Burry Professor of Cognitive Childhood Development, professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Investigator and director of the Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Division. “If you don’t have that recharge, it can be very devastating.”

Malow served on the academy’s 13-member committee that researched clinical studies to issue the consensus statement.

The recommendations include:

• Infants (4 months to 12 months) should sleep 12 to 16 hours a day, including naps.

• Toddlers (1 to 2) should sleep 11 to 14 hours, including naps.

• Children (3 to 5) should sleep 10 to 13 hours, including naps.

• Children (6 to 12) should sleep nine to 12 hours.

• Teenagers (13 to 18) should sleep eight to 10 hours.

Inadequate sleep increases risks of accidents, injuries, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and depression, according to the consensus statement. Regularly sleeping fewer than the number of recommended hours is associated with attention, behavior and learning problems. The committee also found that among teenagers, insufficient sleep is associated with increased risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

– by Tom Wilemon