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The Valley Hospital
223 N. Van Dien Avenue
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
 

Infants and Toddlers

  • Keep on a regular sleep-wake schedulemost babies will be able to sleep through the night by 6 months of age.
  • Always place the baby on their back for sleep.
  • Stop overnight feedings around 4-6 months of age.
  • Have a screen-free bedroom.

Children and Adolescents

  • Have consistent wake times on both weekdays and weekends.
  • Use the bed only for sleep.
  • Turn off electronic devices and considered keeping them out of the bedroom.
  • Get daily exercise but avoid vigorous exercise a few hours before bedtime.
 

Sleep hygiene is a phrase used to describe good habits that optimize the quantity and quality of an individual’s sleep.

  1. Establish consistent bedtime routines with dim lights and calm quite activities. For small children, the bedtime routine should be about 10-20 minutes in length. When complete parents should be able to say good night and leave while the child is still awake but sleepy. Older children routines should have routines such as a bath or shower, reading, and or listening to music. It is also important to ensure that the bedroom is electronic and screen free. That means no cell phones, tablets, or computers.
  2. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day including weekends. Wake-up times are much easier to control and help to determine when an individual can fall asleep.
  3. No caffeine after lunch. Caffeine can continue to affect the body up to 12 hours after consumption.
  4. In the morning, allow for bright light and be active.
  5. Lastly get the sleep in your body needs.
 

I am often asked, “how much sleep does my child need”? The answer is - it depends. There is significant variability in sleep needs from child to child and across age ranges. There is no “magic number” needed by a child of a certain age. Moreover the guidelines that are listed below should be adjusted for each child’s individual situation, i.e., whether the child or adolescent is receiving sufficient amount of sleep, has excessive daytime sleepiness, and/or requires additional sleep on the weekends. Ideally parents should strive to allow their child’s schedule so that they may get as many hours of sleep a day as they need while avoiding all conditions which would tend to abbreviate their sleep duration.

AGE

TOTAL HOURS OF SLEEP (TYPICAL) 

NIGHTTIME HOURS OF SLEEP

DAYTIME HOURS OF SLEEP

0-3 months

14-17

varies

Varies

4-11 months

12-15

11-13

2-4

1-2 years

11-14

11-12

1½-2

3-5 years

10-13

10-11

1

6-13 years

9-11

9-11

0

14-17 years

8-10

8-10

0

*After the variability of the first weeks of life, most children's sleep times fall within about an hour of those listed.

*Naps usually stop by the 4th birthday, but some children continue to nap until age 5.

By 4-6 months of age, most babies should be sleeping throughout the night. What happens to a youngster when he or she does not get the required amount of sleep? To date, we do not understand all the functions of sleep but it is recognized that sleep plays a vital role in restoration of tissues and muscles; energy conservation; and assists with learning and consolidation of daytime experiences.

Moreover, insufficient quantity and/or quality of sleep impacts a child’s physical and mental health, cognitive function, behavior, and academic success. Additionally there is evidence that shows associations between insufficient sleep and a host of adverse health outcomes in children and adolescents including increased obesity risk, higher rates in motor vehicle accidents and accidental injuries and depression. Conversely, there is growing research that indicates the positive impact of sleep extension on cognitive function in children and adolescents.

 

On average, most children stop napping between the ages of 3 and 4. Some may stop as early as 2 years of age and others later at 5 years of age.

 

The short answer is no, there is no replacement for sleep. Children appear to be able to tolerate a single night of restricted sleep without decreased daytime performance on brief tasks. However children seem to require more time to recuperate fully from sleep restriction than adults.

If the answer is “yes” to any of the following questions, then you should discuss this with your pediatrician or see a sleep specialist.

1) Is your child sleepy during the daytime? Excessive daytime sleepiness is one of the most common symptoms of a sleep disorder. This is not to be confused with occasionally feeling tired. If your child’s daytime drowsiness is fairly regular, it could be linked to a sleep disorder even if it appears that they are getting enough sleep at night.

2) Is your child having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? If your child complains about not being able to fall asleep or has trouble staying asleep or wakes up earlier than expected, it could be a sign of insomnia.

3) Does your child snore more than 2-3 times a week? Snoring occurs in about 20% of children. Children with snoring may have obstructive sleep apnea.

4) Does your child awaken earlier than expected?  Is your child restless during sleep or experiencing daytime behaviors that are aggressive, hyperactive, oppositional, defiant or impulsive?  These behaviors may be linked to a sleep disorder.

It has been reported that about 25% of all children experience some type of sleep problem at some point during childhood and adolescence. Problems range from short-term problems such as difficulty falling asleep and waking at night to more serious sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and narcolepsy.

Sleep problems can be treated. Parents can learn strategies to prevent sleep problems from developing in the first place as well as from becoming chronic if they already exist. The first step is to understand their child’s sleep needs and preferences by answering questions such as: How much sleep does my child need to feel well rested? What is my child like when he/she hasn’t gotten enough sleep? What time does my child prefer to go to bed at night and get up in the morning? How much “down time” does my child need before bed? What makes my child feel safe at night? The answer to these questions can then help parents develop appropriate bedtime routines, bedtimes, and good sleep habits. These simple steps will go long way toward avoiding bedtime struggles, unhappy mornings, and falling asleep at school.

To date we do not understand all the functions of sleep but it is recognized that sleep plays a vital role in restoration of tissues and muscles; energy conservation; and assists with learning and consolidation of daytime experiences.

Moreover insufficient quantity and/or quality of sleep impacts a child’s physical and mental health, cognitive function, behavior, and academic success. Additionally there is evidence that shows associations between insufficient sleep and a host of adverse health outcomes in children and adolescents including increased obesity risk, higher rates in motor vehicle accidents and accidental injuries, and depression. Conversely, there is growing research that indicates the positive impact of sleep extension on cognitive function in children and adolescents.

This is difficult to answer because every family and child is unique and has their own set of circumstances. A parent should see a sleep specialist if they feel they need assistance with getting their child the quantity and quality of sleep needed. Moreover, if a child is snoring more than 3 nights a week, complaining of consistently being tired during the daytime, or are unable to focus during the day, than they should be evaluated by either their pediatrician or someone like myself, a sleep specialist.

Summer time allows children to get in touch with their circadian clock in that there is a good amount of bright light during the morning and they can wake up spontaneously when they feel rested.The best way to know if your child’s getting enough sleep at night is to evaluate their daytime functioning. Most children (and adults) who are sleep deprived appear to “fall apart at the “seams” this may be evident through hyperactivity, excessive sleepiness, or inability to cope as well as they normally do when they get a good night’s sleep. If this is the case, I suggest that a parent review their child’s bedtime routines, bedtimes, and make the appropriate adjustments if needed. 

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call our Center at 201-447-8152.

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