Kids need sleep, not solely because Zzz-less little ones are terrors. Sleep is vital for cognitive development and associated with a host of positive outcomes, including healthy weight, academic performance, emotional regulation and improved focus. By contrast, insufficient sleep is known to increase the risk of accidents, obesity, learning deficits and diabetes. For teenagers in particular, too little sleep has been linked to symptoms of poor mental health and psychological disorders, including suicidal thoughts, self-harm and depression. Earlier this week, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) issued a consensus statement with updated recommendations for the amount of sleep kids and teens should get.
Here are the AASM sleep-duration recommendations to promote optimal health for children between four months old and 18 years old. (The AASM did not issue recommendations for infants under four months old because the normal range for sleep duration is too wide and the evidence linking sleep habits and health outcomes too sparse.)
Four months old to one year old: 12 to 16 hours a day (including naps)
One to two years old: 11 to 14 hours a day (including naps)
Three to five years old: 10 to 13 hours a day (including naps)
Six to 12 years old: Nine to 12 hours a day
Teenagers (13 to 18 years old): Eight to 10 hours a day
These figures come courtesy of a 13-person panel of experts in sleep medicine. The experts reviewed 864 scientific articles in topic areas relevant to sleep duration, including cardiovascular health, mental health, child development and human performance.
Here's how the AASM recommendations compare to those issued by the National Sleep Foundation last year (they're pretty similar):
Zero to three months old: 14 to 17 hours
Four to 11 months old: 12 to 15 hours
One to two years old: 11 to 14 hours
Three to five years old: 10 to 13 hours
Six to 13 years old: nine to 11 hours
14 to 17 years old: eight to 10 hours
So parents, take note. In the end, sleep debt is always a loss for kids' growing minds and bodies.