The Truth About Children and Sleep

children and sleepDisclosure : Thank you to Children’s Mercy Wichita Specialty Clinic for sponsoring this post and for providing quality medical services to our community of moms and their children.

Children and Sleep

When asked, most kids say they don’t get enough sleep at night – and their parents agree. Missy Stover, Children’s Mercy Certified Child Life Specialist, says, “Most school-aged kids I meet don’t realize how many hours of sleep they need, and that is part of the problem. They know their parents need about eight hours of sleep, but children need quite a bit more.”

Why is sleep important for kids? 

Sleep is important for kids because it helps them feel prepared for the next day. It also helps their tissues, muscles and bones grow and keeps their immune systems healthy, which helps to fight illness. Getting the proper amount of sleep can also allow kids’ brains to sort and store information and makes it easier for them to think, focus, remember and solve problems. Not to mention sleep restores kids’ energy to be active throughout the day!

How much sleep is enough?

Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but children need quite a bit more. All kids are different, and some need more sleep than others. When asked, most kids (and their parents) agree they don’t get enough.

• 3- to 5-year-olds need 11–13 hours of sleep
• 5- to 12-year-olds need 10–11 hours of sleep
• 13- to 17-year-olds need 9–10 hours of sleep

Need More Zzz’s

A lack of sleep can make it hard to handle the challenges of day-to-day life. Not getting enough sleep can leave kids feeling:

• Cranky
• Clumsy
• Confused or forgetful
• Hyper
• Lazy or sluggish
• Sad or depressed

Making Sleep Better

• Allow time for plenty of exercise during the daytime – at least one hour of physical activity a day.
• Limit evening activities and allow time for a relaxing bedtime routine.
• Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
• Avoid caffeinated drinks, especially after 2 p.m.
• Create a quiet, dark and comfortable environment.
• Turn off television, video games, cell phones and other screens at least one-two hours before bedtime.

Ways to Help Children Sleep Better

Sometimes kids feel scared or worried at bedtime, making it hard to fall asleep. Encourage kids to try these tips:

• Bring a soft, comforting object to bed – like a favorite stuffed animal or special blanket.
• Turn on a fan.
• Write in a journal or draw before going to bed.
• Put happy pictures or photos near the bed.
• Think good thoughts – try to imagine a peaceful place with friends and family.
• Listen to relaxing music or sounds.
• Read a book.
• Count backwards from 100 with eyes closed.
• Talk with someone about nightmares – sometimes just talking about scary thoughts can help.

The Children’s Mercy Wichita Specialty Clinic provides a convenient location to better serve Wichita area families and patients with the best pediatric sub-specialty care possible.

The clinic is located near the campus of Wesley Medical Center and houses Children’s Mercy pediatric sub-specialists including: cardiology, endocrinology/diabetes, hematology/oncology, nephrology and plastic surgery. There are also numerous telemedicine clinics offered including asthma and allergy, neurology, pulmonology and sleep medicine. Our team helps provide health care to thousands of Kansas kids each year. And there is no greater source of inspiration than the patient and families we serve every day.

To learn more visit

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