Kate’s Corner
Aug 06 2014

  Back To Sleep

There is a wonderful saying that is often used by seasoned mothers to help new moms;

“Sleeping babies sleep.”

So many times new families hesitate to let an infant sleep past what the adults feel is enough time.  There is always concern that if a child sleeps past a routine nap time, falls asleep in the car unexpectedly or closes their eyes and cat naps, they will be off their schedule and not go to bed on time in the evening.

When, in fact, children know their bodies and their body’s needs far better than we do.  They sleep when they are tired.  Young children also sleep as an internal get away; they sleep in the middle of picnics, playgrounds and parties.  Children close off too much stimulation, noise and commotion.  They retreat in sleep.  Babies adjust and readjust to meet their needs all of the time.  They are so smart.

While every child and adult is an individual with individual needs, likes, behaviors and routines, there is some guided information that helps frame sleep patterns and sleep needs.  Sleep is not optional.  It is a requirement of healthy growth and development.

How much sleep is needed?

According to the National Sleep Foundation;

Birth – 1 month                 15 -16 hours including naps and overnight

All babies should be put on their backs to sleep, have a firm mattress in an individual sleep space free of pillows, heavy blankets and bunting.

Google Safe Sleep for Babies to find multiple sites to learn more!

1 – 12 months                     14 – 15 hours

Initially sleep is not connected to day and night for infants, but to internal body rhythms.

Sleep gradually patterns and mimics family life and schedules.

Sleep becomes more predictable.

1 -3 years                           12 – 14 hours

Sleep now is typically in shorter, routine naps and longer overnights.

During this time children are experiencing extensive development in brain and body with high energy needs for movement and language growth.

Eating patterns and nutritional needs change.

 3 – 6 years                               10 – 12 hours

Most children outgrow afternoon naps in their 4th year.

Sleep rhythms and patterns are established.

Children learn to help themselves when they are fatigued and tired, yet still look for adults to guide their sleep.

5 – 12 years                            10 – 11 hours

Children have increasing demands on their time and activity level.

Appearance of sleep difficulty and disruptions start in these years.

It is now important to firmly establish and support healthy sleep habits and create personal sleep space free from high distraction, electronics and excess.

Teenagers                             9 – 14 hours of sleep needed a night

Teenagers are sleep deprived (NY Times 2011).

For teenagers, school, work, sports and friends can combine to create serious habits of sleep neglect. Sleep deprivation causes lifelong health issues including depression.

It is a contributing factor to school challenges and failure and leads to inattention causing accidents at home, school and work.   (Sleep Habits: More Important Than You Think M. Breus, M.D).

Adults                                     7 – 8 hours a night

Good luck.

“People who say they sleep like babies, usually don’t have them.”

Leo Burke