Just how much sleep is enough sleep?

Does your child often ask for ‘one more story’? Do they regularly wake up throughout the night or have trouble sleeping in their own bed? Perhaps you have a teenager who stays up late texting friends or gaming, and then has trouble waking up in time for school? And if you are a teenager who is having trouble getting to sleep, then this is for you too!

How much sleep should my child/teenager be getting?

The general rule of thumb is that as children get older, they need less sleep, and typically have less day-time naps as they take longer sleeps through the night.

Depending on age and health, children and young people may need anywhere between eight to sixteen hours of sleep a day. Specifically-Three to nine-year-olds need approximately 10-12 hours and Ten to eighteen-year-olds need between 8 and 10 hours.

With such a sleep range, how do I know if my child/teenager is getting enough sleep?

Some sleep troubles are normal at any age. For example, it is common for young children to wake up from nightmares or night terrors. Also, teenagers who are busy with social media and academic commitments may have less sleep some nights and benefit from some catch-up sleep.

What are the signs?

Some signs that may indicate that your child/teen isn’t getting enough sleep include:

  • Difficulties staying awake during the day
  • Irritability
  • Difficulties managing their emotions
  • Lack of concentration and focus
  • Forgetfulness

What can I do?

We all have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep from time to time. However, if most nights feel like a battle for you and your child/teenager, don’t fret, there are some strategies you can try so that you and your family can have a more restful night’s sleep-

  • Having a consistent bedtime routine
  • Encourage your child/teenager to go to bed and get up around the same time every day
  • Limit exposure to mobile phones and TV screens one hour before bed
  • Restrict clock watching by turning the clock away from the bed
  • Keeping physically active throughout the day has been shown to increase sleep time

However, sometimes these small changes may not be enough. By talking to one of our Clinical Psychologists, you can help your child or teen overcome their sleeping problems. They will learn techniques to get a more restful night’s sleep which will not only improve their quality of life but yours as well.

Want to know more? Give us a call on (02) 9525 8443.

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