Pediatric sleep recommendations promoting optimal health

For the first time, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has released official consensus recommendations for the amount of sleep needed to promote optimal health in children and teenagers to avoid the health risks of insufficient sleep. 


Presented at SLEEP 2016, the findings show that in general infants younger than 12 months old need as much as 16 hours of daily sleep to ensure that they have the right amount of rest to reduce health risks.

The organisation’s consensus statement published in the June edition of the Journal ofClinical Sleep Medicine is based on a 10-month project by the Pediatric Consensus Panel of sleep experts.

To come up with their recommendations, the panel gave gradings to the reviewed scientific articles about children and sleep following rounds of voting. They recommended the following regular amounts of sleep per day for different age groups to achieve optimal health:

• Infants four to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

• Children one to two years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

• Children three to five years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

• Children six to 12 years of age should sleep nine to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

• Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep eight to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

The Pediatric Consensus Panel concluded that sleeping less than the recommended hours can cause problems with attention, behavior, and learning. Also, it can increase the risk of accidents, injuries,hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and depression, as well as self-harm, suicidal thoughts and attempts in teenagers.

“More than a third of the U.S. population is not getting enough sleep, and for children who are in the critical years of early development, sleep is even more crucial,” said Dr. Nathaniel Watson, 2015 – 2016 president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Making sure there is ample time for sleep is one of the best ways to promote a healthy lifestyle for a child.”

Also, sleeping the number of recommended hours on a regular basis is associated with overall better health outcomes including: improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health.

Finally, sleeping more than the recommended hours may be linked to adverse outcomes such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and psychiatric disorders, the Panel also found.

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