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Are Your Kids Getting Enough Sleep? Chances Are No

Every parent has been there — the inevitable meltdown when your child gets overtired. But a temper tantrum isn’t the only downside to lack of sleep for your little one.

The side effects of not enough sleep

A lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, injuries, diabetes and obesity in kids. In teens and adults, lack of sleep can lead to depression.1,2

Eight is not enough 

Even for your older children, getting eight hours of sleep is probably not adequate. In fact, the younger your child is, the more sleep they need. Infants may spend more than half their day asleep (including naps) — a welcome respite for tired parents and much needed time for the infants’ mental and physical development.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • Infants 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
  • Kids 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
  • Kids 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
  • Kids 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours
  • Teens: 8 to 10 hours1

Irritable or hyperactive? Sleepiness may be the cause

Think yawning and drifting off to sleep during the day are the only signs your child isn’t getting enough sleep? Think again. Adults tend to slow down with fatigue, but some kids can really wind up when overtired. This sign can look a lot like attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.2

Here are some telltale signs it may be time for an earlier bed time or a daytime nap:

  • Having trouble waking up and getting moving within 15 minutes
  • Sleeping at least two hours longer during weekends or vacations than during the school week
  • Falling asleep during short car trips or at school
  • Having trouble remembering, paying attention and learning
  • Being irritable or hyperactive1,4

Time for bed!

Getting kids in bed can be easier said than done, we know, but there are steps you can take to make bedtime more enjoyable.

  • Limit your child’s access to caffeine (remember it’s in chocolate, too!)
  • Make sure the bedroom is cool and dark
  • Set a regular, relaxing nighttime routine
  • No TV or computers in the bedroom and turn off all screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime!1,3

Still tired?

If your child is having trouble falling asleep or still seems tired after getting a good night’s rest, it is important to rule out a sleep disorder or other medical condition. Be sure to mention any concerns you may have to your pediatrician. 

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  1. CBS News: “New sleep guidelines for babies, kids and teens.” Available at: Accessed 7-1-17.
  2. National Sleep Foundation: “How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need?” Available at: Accessed 7-1-17.
  3. National Sleep Foundation: “Children and Sleep.” Available at: Accessed 7-1-17.
  4. HealthDay: “Health Tip: Is Your Child Sleeping Enough?” Available at: Accessed 7-1-17.


Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.