American Academy of Sleep Medicine warns against insufficient sleep in children

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Sleep deprivation may not have immediate effects now, experts are saying, but down the road it can take a toll on their health.

Most parents know how hard it is to put children to bed, especially when it’s time for their daily naps. Children don't like to sleep. It’s just one of those little facts of life.

Sleeping, however, is crucial to the development of children. Many parents are aware of that, but what they’re not certain of is the amount of sleep a child should be getting exactly.

In fact, only few are educated about sleep in general, so much so that lack of sleep in children are becoming a growing problem.

Thankfully, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, with the help of a 13-member panel of experts, finally sets a guideline for sleeping times essential for a child’s growth.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the new guidelines states that for infants ages four to 12 months, 12 to 16 hours of sleep, including naps, are recommended.

For toddlers ages one to two, experts recommend 11 to 14 hours, including naps. For preschoolers ages three to five years, it is ten to 13 hours of sleep.

Grade schoolers ages six to 12 years no longer need to nap, but they would need nine to twelve hours of shuteye. For teenagers thirteen and up, they only need eight to ten hours of sleep.

The range for the recommended sleep hours between age groups is wider that previous guidelines, but according to Dr. Stuart F. Chan of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, children and teenagers “need substantial amounts of sleep.”

As much as possible, sleep deprivation during a person’s formative years should be avoided; they may not have immediate effects now, but down the road it can take a toll on their health.

According to Dr. Chan, some dangers of sleep disorder in children include sleep apnea (which is linked with poor academic performance), mood and behaviour problems, misdiagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)."

Not only that, children who don’t get proper sleep are at risk for developing heart problems.

However, there is still the challenge parents face in ensuring that their children are getting enough rest; many factors affect a child’s sleeping habits, including a family’s daily activities.

“Experts advise parents to observe kids even if they're following the sleep guidelines for children, but are still sleepy during the day, or sleeping more than what's recommended,” said a Parent Herald article. “Parents should consult their family doctor or a paediatrician for there could be an underlying sleep disorder.”

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