To Nap or Not to Nap

And Other Sleep Guidelines

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has endorsed new guidelines set by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) that outline the recommended sleep duration for children from infants to teens. The guidelines, “Recommended Amount of Sleep for Pediatric Populations” was published June 13 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The AAP encourages pediatricians to discuss these recommendations and healthy sleep habits with parents and teens during clinical visits.

The group found that adequate sleep duration for age on a regular basis leads to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep each night is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression, especially for teens who may experience increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts. For infants and young children, establishing a bedtime routine is important to ensuring children get adequate sleep each night. The AAP program, “Brush, Book, Bed,” is available by clicking this link.

This little one is sound asleep as comfortable as can be.

Napping for younger children is essential to keep away the “crankies” but napping can be beneficial to all ages of children. For older kids, napping as short as 10-20 minutes can be beneficial according to the National Sleep Foundation. Naps that are too long or close to bedtime can interfere with your regular sleep. Oh, and parents, feel free to nap with the babies when you can, you need your extra Z’s just as much your kiddos.

In addition to these recommendations, the AAP suggests that all screens be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime and that TV, computers and other screens not be allowed in children’s bedrooms. Sleeping near a small screen, sleeping with a TV in the room, and more screen time were associated with shorter sleep durations. Presence of a small screen, but not a TV, in the sleep environment and screen time were associated with perceived insufficient rest or sleep. These findings caution against unrestricted screen access in children’s bedrooms.

Instead of napping try some of these supplemental activities for getting little ones on a sleep routine:

  • Read books
  • Look & name pictures in magazines
  • Sing songs
  • Star gaze / find constellations
  • Pick up toys
  • Pick out an outfit to wear after waking up