How Much Sleep Does Your Child Need?
When your child was little, your goal was to get her to sleep through the night. It probably never occurred to you that, years later, you might find yourself once again challenged by a similar conundrum -- your teen's sleeplessness.
In fact, poor sleep habits among teens and tweens is more common than you might think. According to a National Sleep Foundation poll, 60% of children under 18 said they were tired during the day and 15% said they fell asleep at school.
Often, the problem for kids is the same one their parents have: Too much to do and too few hours to do it in. They stay up too late doing homework or IM'ing with friends, then can't fall asleep because they're too keyed up.
Tips for a Good Night's Sleep
It's important to tackle sleeplessness before it becomes chronic; kids need sleep to stay healthy and concentrate in school -- and it's crucial not only when they're behind their desks, but also when they're behind the wheel. The rule of thumb: Teens need at least nine hours of sleep; kids age 6 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours.
Here are some simple ways to help your teen sleep better:
- Turn off the TV or computer for at least half an hour before bedtime, so that she has "chill" time to wind down and relax before trying to sleep.
- Try to establish some sort of regular routine. This may be easier said than done, but it'll likely to be very helpful when trying to improve sleep habits.
- She should limit physical exercise in the evenings if it seems to be keeping her from getting to sleep.
- Encourage her to limit caffeine intake -- especially after lunch and into the evening so it has enough time to get out of her system before bedtime.