New guidelines show how much sleep children need

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BUFFALO, N.Y.– New recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Experts show exactly how much sleep babies and children need depends on their age. A pediatrician in Orchard Park said it’s giving parents clarity on the topic for the first time.

Parents know how difficult it can be to get a child to sleep and the impact it can have when a child does not get enough.

“I think it’s definitely necessary as far as attitude and mood,” Rebecca Muller, who has a 5-year-old son, said. “I think it’s definitely necessary as far as attitude and mood.”

Now the new guidelines break down just how much sleep your child needs according to their age.

Here are the recommendations by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine:

Babies, 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours

Children, 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours

Children, 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours

Children, 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours

Teens: 8 to 10 hours

“It seems intuitive that an infant would need more sleep than a teenager, but it’s nice to have more specific numbers,” Dr. Anthony Caterina, a pediatrician at Orchard Park Pediatrics, said.

Dr. Caterina said the amount of sleep required changes as you get older.

“An infant needs more sleep because their brain is developing more. An older person’s sleep architecture is different, so they don’t require as much sleep.”

Still, he said a lot of his teenager patients do not get enough sleep.

“Most teenagers are going to sleep much later than you would expect and not being able to wake up in time for school,” Dr. Caterina said.

That can lead to problems. According to the Academy of Sleep Medicine, not getting the recommended amount of sleep can cause attention, learning and behavioral problems for children.

“When I have kids who come in with different issues mainly behavior issues one of the first things I ask about is sleep. And I almost always find that sleep is a contributing factor,” he said.

It’s not just the minimum requirements that are important. Dr. Caterina said getting too much sleep can also be harmful.

“Too much sleep could be a sign of depression or other mood disorders. So that’s one example of why too much sleep might be a red flag,” he said.

Dr. Caterina recommends parents be stricter with bedtime rules. It’s something Rebecca Muller knows is crucial for her 5-year-old son.

“There’s a huge difference if he doesn’t get a full night’s sleep. [He needs] definitely 10 hours at least,” she said.

The guidelines were also endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Caterina also said using smartphones and tablets before bedtime can keep kids up at night. He said children’s brains cannot handle that much stimulation before bed. He recommends children shut off all electronic devices at least a half hour before bed time.

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