How much sleep do you really need? When you actually think about it, you spend nearly one-third of your life sleeping, trying to stay asleep or laying in bed wishing for sleep.
Establishing a healthy sleep hygiene schedule is imperative (especially in the early years of a child’s life). Sleep affects everything from the ability to focus, learn, your mood, weight management and overall brain and heart health.
Knowing how much sleep you and your little one need can be difficult. Every child is different, which means their sleep needs are as well.
When adults are tired they usually slow down, get sluggish, moody and experience “tired symptoms”. But when children are tired or overtired they can react in the opposite way with symptoms resembling ADHD (like hyperactivity, energy surges, moodiness, resistance and more).
Sleep Recommendations By Age
In 2015, after two years of intensive clinical studies, the National Sleep Foundation released updated recommendations for how much sleep each age group needs.
The National Sleep Foundation breaks down the hours of sleep needed into three areas: recommended, may be appropriate, and not recommended.
We took the chart and simplified it by just focusing on the recommended hours by age. Keep in mind that every person is different so they might need a little bit more or a little bit less.
Starting with newborns and infants, they require A LOT of sleep. But it’s not all bulked into one long sleep sesh. Naps are crucial.
Teenagers are a little tricky. Dr. William J. Sieber has stated that the teenage circadian sleep pattern is actually shifted two hours later, which means they’re usually not ready for bed until after midnight, yet they need about 9 hours of sleep per night to fully function.
Once you pass the teenage years the recommended amount of sleep is still around 7-9 hours per night. Most of us don’t get that because of kids, sleep issues, and just plain life. But are we causing some of our sleep problems?
Sleep Tips and Tricks
Are we causing our own sleep problems? For a lot of us, the answer is yes. So let’s go over some tips and tricks to help you get some shut-eye.
- Leave the electronics in another room. This includes phones, tv, e-readers, or anything that emits synthetic light to your eyes.
- Ditch the sugary drinks, caffeine or snacks before bed. Yup, that Diet Coke you had at lunch can still keep you up at 11 pm.
- Keep it dark and cool. Your room should be slightly cool and as dark as possible. This goes for your children too. You may have to convince them that the boogeyman isn’t real but both you and your child will sleep better when it’s dark and cool.
- Melatonin. Melatonin is naturally secreted from our brain to the body each night at around dusk. It is vital to setting the body’s internal sleep clock. Not enough and you won’t get that sleep signal. Light rays and waves from your phone or tablet will trick your brain into thinking it is still daytime thus keeping you awake. Melatonin is safe, doctor-recommended and drug-free.
- Calm the storm. Often times a racing mind keeps adults awake. How do you shut it off? With practice and concerted effort. It is possible. Try a meditation practice, controlled breathing or reading an actual physical book.
Let’s Put This To Rest
Isn’t it interesting that brand new babies can give cues or signals that they are tired? They might start rubbing their eyes or their ears. As we get older, we still have cues that we are tired but we tend to push them off or ignore them. Figure out your cues.
Once you know your cues, set yourself and your room up for a sleep paradise. Dim the lights, cut off the electronics and pull out a boring book. You will be asleep in no time!
Just as routines are crucial for babies, they are for adults too. Create a nighttime routine and stick with it.