4-H Educator

Getting the right amount of sleep is vital to the development of children and teens, so start their day off right by helping them get a good night's sleep.

A child's behavior can directly reflect their lack of sleep in a way which may not be obvious right away.

When an adult is tired, they can either be grumpy or have low energy. A child can either become hyper or disagreeable?they have extremes in behavior. Lack of adequate sleep can negatively impact performance in school, memory, decisions and behavior.

Children's sleep requirements fall within a predictable range of hours based on their age, but each child has a single distinctive set of sleep needs.

Children ages 1 to 3 need approximately 10 to 13 hours of sleep.

It is important to notice the time of night when toddlers begin to show signs of sleepiness and try to establish this time as their regular bedtime.

Oftentimes parents make the mistake of thinking if they keep their child up later, they may be sleepier at bedtime.

Actually, children have a more difficult time sleeping if they are overtired. It is good to establish a bedtime routine to help a child relax and get ready for sleep. This routine may be 15 to 30 minutes before bedtime and may include reading or bathing.

As for preschoolers they need around 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night.

A 5-year-old who gets enough sleep at night, usually no longer need a nap during the day.

Children ages 6 to 9 need approximately 10 hours of sleep a night. Occasionally, children at this age need one-on-one time with parents, without siblings. Bedtime is a good opportunity to give your child this private time he or she needs.

This particular time can be used for small discussions and this will help prepare the child for sleep.

A little over nine hours of sleep is recommended for children ages 10 to 12. Yet, it is up to the parents to determine the amount of rest needed by their child.

Teens need about eight to nine and a half hours of sleep per night.

As they progress through puberty, they actually need more.

Teens keep a hectic schedule that often interferes with sleep, resulting in them becoming sleep deprived. When sleep deprivation adds up over time, an hour less per night can feel like a full night without sleep by the end of the week.

Adolescents' sleep patterns change in that their bodies want to stay up late and wake up later. This leads to catching up on sleep on the weekends.

In an ideal world, a teenager would go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, but with teenagers hectic schedules setting sleep patterns are difficult.

Try these tips this week to help children ease into a good night's sleep:

Include a winding-down period in the evening routine, such as talking or reading.

Stick to a bedtime, telling your child both a half hour and 10 minutes in advance.

Let your child pick out their pajamas and pick which stuffed animal they would like to take to bed.

For a feeling of security, tuck your child into bed.

For an older child, or teenager, encourage them to establish a regular bedtime that allows them to get good sleep on a regular basis.

There may not be one sure way to raise a good sleeper, yet every parent should be encouraged to know that most children have the ability to sleep well.

Trying early on to establish healthy habits is the key to good sleep habits for a lifetime.

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