Help Children Get Enough Sleep
Children who lose even one hour of sleep have difficult memorizing, concentrating, organizing and focusing on tasks, said Joy Rouse, a Families Program Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Kids need to get enough sleep for several reasons, Rouse said.
- Sleep helps solidify new learning in the brain. It also helps consolidate, organize and recover memories.
- Sleep is necessary for rational, emotional and social behavior. Those who do not get enough sleep experience more activity in the emotional centers of the brain, which can lead to irrational behavior.
- Sleep helps the body repair neurons used during the day to keep the nervous system working properly.
- Sleep keeps the body’s immune systems working properly to provide protection from infection and disease.
- The body releases growth hormones during sleep. Sleep is important for proper physical and mental development.
“Getting enough sleep is critical for all children, whether resting during nap time or sleeping at night,” Rouse said. “Sleep allows the body to relax and recharge. Children who do not learn how to rest and relax at naptime become overly tired and often have trouble going to sleep at bedtime.”
Children from birth to age 3 need 14 to 16 hours of sleep each day, she said. Three to 6-year-olds need 10 3/4 to 12 hours of sleep per day, and 6 to 12-year-olds need 10 to 11 hours daily. Youth ages 12 to 18 need 8 1/4 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep per day.
To help ensure that children get enough sleep, Rouse said, establish a timely, regular bedtime routine that is positive and relaxing, which will help children calm down. That routine could include the child taking a bath, and reading a story with him or her at bedtime. Remove television sets and computers from children’s bedrooms to eliminate the potential distraction.
In addition, Rouse advised parents and caregivers to gain enough sleep for their own optimum performance.
“When everyone follows a regular routine, children’s sleep problems will be less problematic, students’ health and performance will increase and the family will be happier. When children get enough sleep, they are more likely to function better, be less moody and have fewer behavioral problems,” Rouse said.
“Children will continue to test limits at bedtime, asking for drinks and extra trips to the bathroom. But do try to be firm and follow your bedtime routine so that children can fall asleep more easily and then sleep through the night,” Rouse said.
For more information, read about Creating home environments that help kids succeed at school (free download), and Extension publication: Children and sleep (PDF)
Counties Main Menu
- County Home
- About Us
- 4-H & Youth
- Agriculture & Environment
- Business & Community
- Families & Healthy Living