New Sleep Guidelines: 5 Ways to Make Sure Your Kids are Getting Enough

A new study released last week shows that teens and children are getting far less sleep than they need. In fact, many teens are getting less than seven hours of sleep each night. While that may not seem so different from how much shut-eye you’re getting, children and teens require a lot more sleep than adults. How much more? Recently, after an extensive review of scientific journals and input from medical professionals, the National Sleep Foundation released a new set of recommendations to show just how much sleep people need at different ages.

  • Zero to three months of age: 14 to 17 hours
  • Four to 11 months of age: 12 to 15 hours
  • One to two years of age: 11 to 14 hours
  • Three to five years of age: 10 to 13 hours
  • Six to 13 years of age: nine to 11 hours
  • 14 to 17 years of age: eight to 10 hours

Is your child getting the right amount? The answer might be no if he or she has a hard time waking up in the morning and complains of being tired throughout the day. If that’s the case, here are five ways to help:

  1. Cut out technology. A 2007 study showed that kids who played video games an hour before bedtime had trouble falling asleep. Have your child unplug without technology (including the TV, smart phones and tablets) at least an hour—and preferably two hours—before bed.
  2. Change their bedtime snack. Foods with tryptophan (the chemical responsible for post-Thanksgiving sleepiness) can help them feel drowsy. Two good choices: oatmeal with milk or toast with peanut butter.
  3. Establish a routine. Try to do the same things every night to signal to your child that it’s time to relax. Read a story (if your child is younger) or talk about how their day was to transition to bedtime.
  4. Turn off the lights. Make sure bedrooms are pitch dark—even light from night lights, aquariums and alarm clocks can keep your kids awake.
  5. Be strict about bedtime. Start urging them to go to bed an hour before they need to be asleep. That way you are building in time for them to read and drift off.

If you’re looking for ways you can help yourself sleep better as well, check out these other blogs:


This blog post is part of #MIKidsCan, an initiative created by Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan to promote positive change in the health and well-being of Michigan youth. To learn more about the campaign, visit



Photo credit: Raul A.-

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