“How Can I Ensure my Child is Getting Enough Sleep?”

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By Dr. Lois Gesn
    With the recent time change, sleep is on everyone’s mind.  Sleep is a vital need, essential to a child’s health and growth.  The right amount of it promotes alertness, memory and performance. Children who get enough sleep are more likely to function better and are less prone to behavioral problems and moodiness. 
    While each child is different and has different sleep needs, many parents underestimate how many hours of sleep their child should be getting. The following chart presents recommended hours of sleep (includes naps for children up to five years of age):
 Age                   Hours of Sleep
0-2 months……………11 – 18
2-12 months………….14 – 15
1-3 years……………..12 – 14
3-5 years……………..11 – 13
5 -12 years……………10 – 11
12 – 16 years…………..9 – 10
    Here are a few other tips to help your kids catch all the zzzz’s they need:
• The #1 tip for good sleeping habits in children is to follow a nightly routine.
• Stick to a bedtime, alerting your child both half an hour and 10 minutes before bedtime.
• Limit foods and drinks that contain caffeine.  In addition, do not let children eat or drink significant amounts right before bedtime as this will lead to trips to the bathroom that will interrupt sleep.
• Restrict TV, computer use, and video games for at least one hour before bedtime.
• Discourage vigorous physical activity right before going to bed and instead encourage calming activities such as reading or listening to soft music before bedtime.
• Beds should be used just for sleeping – not doing homework, reading, playing games or talking on the phone. 
• If your child does wake up in the night, check on them as quietly and quickly as possible to limit sleep interruptions and discourage future interruptions. 
Dr. Lois Gesn is a Pediatrician at Ochsner Health Center – Central.  She can be contacted at 261-9790.  

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