September 18, 2023

Children and Sleep

Establishing healthy sleep patterns can be tricky for some children, particularly with the transition back to school. Dr. Jennifer Yee explains:

Just as for adults, sleep requirements for children vary depending on various factors such as age, temperament, physical activity level, and developmental differences. 

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine had the following recommendations for sleep: Including naps, infants (under one year) typically need 12-16 hours every 24 hours; toddlers (1-2 years) need 11-14 hours; children (3-5 years) need 10-13 hours; older children (6-12 years) need 9-12 hours; and teenagers (13-18 years) need 8-10 hours

The quality of sleep is also equally as important as the quantity of sleep. Some tips to improve sleep habits and sleep hygiene include:

– limiting the use of electronic devices, especially within 3 hours of bedtime

– in older children, limiting naps if they are disruptive to evening sleep

– having a consistent bedtime and bedtime routine (not just on school nights)

– self-care practices such as stretching, deep breathing techniques, and other relaxation exercises 

– having the bedroom as dark as possible (black-out window coverings, limited or no use of night lights), maintaining a comfortable room temperature, and minimal noise disruptions

– ensuring a balanced diet with adequate nutrition for growing children

– addressing any health issues that could be disruptive to sleep, such as stress, anxiety, hyperactivity, nightmares/night terrors, hormonal imbalances, inflammation in muscles or joints causing pain, food intolerances and breathing difficulties (e.g. asthma, allergies, sleep apnea, swollen tonsils and/or adenoids, snoring, etc.)

Naturopathic medicine may be able to uncover some of the underlying causes of sleep challenges and work to correct them by supporting proper diet and nutritional balance, identifying and reducing allergic reactions and food intolerances, supporting healthy mood and energy levels, and modulating the body’s responses to stress.

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