It’s approaching 9:00 at night. The knot in your stomach lets you know that the ritual is about to begin. All parents understand the dread that accompanies the nightly bedtime routine. It seems as if even the most well-behaved children act out when it’s time for light’s out.
Whether you are forty, fourteen, or four, your body requires a specific amount of sleep in order to fully energize and function the following day. These standards, which are determined by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), help individuals determine the appropriate duration of sleep for their age.
A Typical Bedtime Routine
When you have children spanning several age groups, a typical bedtime can be torture. It may look something like this:
Your ten-year-old is complaining – again – that he has to go to bed while his fourteen-year-old sister gets to stay up an extra half hour. Your teenager is taunting him as if those thirty minutes are the best, and possibly longest, time of her entire day. The racket that the two of them are making would wake their three-year-old sister… if she weren’t still up.
Since your preschooler’s 8:00 bedtime, you’ve read her a story, brought her water, took her to the potty twice, and sang four songs. However, here it is an hour later, and she comes sauntering out of her bedroom as if it is two in the afternoon.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Children require more sleep than adults, and generally speaking, the younger you are, the more sleep your body requires to function properly according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).
Sleep Expert Panel
In early 2015, the NSF and an array of experts came together to review and redefine the sleep recommendations. The panel widened the required duration of sleep for most ages and created new age groups to better specify the best sleep ranges for everyone. The experts involved were from the following fields:
- Experts in sleep, anatomy, and physiology
The chairman of the board of the NSF, Charles A. Czeisler, PhD, MD, spoke on the importance of the panel’s findings, pointing out that individuals – especially parents – rely on the Foundation for information pertaining to quantity of sleep. The NSF takes this responsibility seriously.
Czeisler, who is also the chief of sleep and circadian disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, said, “This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world [SIC] scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance, and safety.”
Appropriate Sleep Durations By Age
The NSF and the expert panel came to the following conclusions in regards to sleep durations based on age:
- Newborns, age 0-3 months: Sleep range narrowed from 12 to 18 hours per day to 14 to 17 hours each day.
- Infants, age 4-11 months: Sleep duration expanded by two hours from 14 to 15 hours to 12 to 15 hours per day.
- Toddlers, age 1-2 years: Sleep range widened from 12 to 14 hours to 11 to 14 hours, adding an additional hour.
- Preschoolers, age 3-5: The range was increased by an hour from 12 to 14 hours per day to 11 to 14 hours.
- School-age children, age 6-13: Previously 10 to 11 hours, the range was widened to 9 to 11 hours each day.
- Teenagers, age 14-17: The panel expanded the sleep range from 8.5 to 9.5 hours to 8 to 10 hours.
- Younger adults, age 18-25: This new age category was developed with a sleep range of 7 to 9 hours per day.
- Adults, age 26-64: This is the only age group whose sleep range did not change and remains at 7 to 9 hours.
- Older adults, age 65 and older: This is also a new age category with a sleep range determined at 7 to 8 hours.
New “May Be Appropriate” Range
The NSF panel also recognized that, as individuals, we all have different needs. Some people may need more or less sleep than others. So now, in addition to the recommended sleep ranges listed above, the experts developed ranges that may be appropriate for some. They also defined sleep durations that were not recommended because they were either too much or too little.
David Cloud, CEO of the NSF, pointed out that the new ranges may be “a useful starting point for individuals to discuss their sleep with their healthcare providers,” which is particularly helpful for people who suspect that they have a sleep-related illness or disease.
How To Use The Sleep Duration Chart
Review the chart that details how many hours of sleep one needs at each age. Perhaps your ten-year-old could stay up that extra half hour. It’s also possible that your preschooler isn’t sleeping at night because her afternoon naps are too long.
Make adjustments to your children’s sleep schedule as they move into new age categories to ensure that they are maintaining a healthy sleep routine. Remember that sleep should not be used as a punishment, and staying up late should not be a reward for good behavior.
Hopefully your kids will no longer fight about their bedtime routine, so you can sleep easy!
Snoring, insomnia, excessive sleepiness or sleep deprivation, and pain or uncontrollable movement of the limbs may be signs of a sleep-related condition. A solid night’s sleep, in keeping with the recommended sleep range, is essential for a healthy body. Sleep problems can not only affect one’s mood, they can change hormone levels and result in shifts in weight.
If you are not getting the amount of sleep recommended by the NSF, you should contact your health care provider to uncover potential disorders or illnesses.