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  • Dr. Megan Westbrook

Time for Bed!

Summer is here and the kids are out of school! So much stuff is going on – sports camps, family vacations, and going on camping trips. When I was a kid, I was always most excited about staying up late at night and sleeping in the next morning. I’m sure many other kids feel the same way. Even though we all do this, it’s important that sleep be taken seriously, especially in childhood. Sleep is the main way children develop physically and mentally. The younger the child, the more important it is!

Our circadian rhythm, or the sleep-wake cycle, is regulated by light times and dark times. When the sun sets and the sky becomes dark, a hormone called melatonin is signaled that aids in the sleep cycle. This cycle usually doesn’t fully form until 3-6 months old. This explains why newborns have such a sporadic sleep cycle! It may be crazy to think that a child will spend 40% of his or her childhood asleep!

It can be difficult to tell when a child is not getting enough sleep. Signs that kids are tired are usually not the same as an adult. They usually appear more hyperactive, resist bedtime, or act like they aren’t tired. So, when should they go to bed? An earlier bedtime, around 7:00-8:00 p.m. usually works for babies and kids through school age. It’s also important to have a consistent bedtime routine, such as bath time, winding down with a book, and avoiding use of screens (iPad’s or TV’s).

If you’re curious as to if your kiddo is getting enough sleep, here is a handy dandy chart. Happy zzz’s!

Age Recommended Possibly Not recommended

Newborns (0-3mos) 14-17 hours 11-13,18-19 hours < 11, or > 19 hours

Infants (4-11mos) 12-15 hours 10-11, 16-18 hours < 10, or > 18 hours

Toddlers (1-2yrs) 11-14 hours 9-10, 15-16 hours < 9, or > 16 hours

Preschoolers (3-5yrs) 10-13 hours 8-9, 14 hours < 8, or > 14 hours

School-aged (6-13yrs) 9-11 hours 7-8, 12 hours < 7, or > 12 hours

Teenagers (14-17yrs) 8-10 hours 7, 11 hours < 7, or > 11 hours

Young adults (18-25yrs) 7-9 hours 6, 10-11 hours <6, or > 11 hours

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