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The Importance of Sleep

Children need a good night’s rest in order to properly grow and develop. While sleeping may seem like an easy enough activity to fit into a child’s day, our family practice specialists in Phoenix find that it is often overlooked. Families have busy schedules with school, after school programs, and one or more parents working. For a majority of families in Arizona, mornings start early and nights run late. Due to this schedule, children and adults alike are often sleep deprived. While it is important for adults to rest in order to function properly, sleep is even more crucial for children.

Mental and physical development depends directly on the amount and quality of sleep a child receives on a regular basis. When a child doesn’t receive enough sleep, our pediatricians at Pediatrix notice higher incidences of delayed physical development, higher risk of developing anxiety and depression, and an increase in behavioral problems such as ADHD.

The pediatricians at Pediatrix in Phoenix offer the following guide to help you determine how much sleep is essential for your child to properly grow and develop, according to your child’s age:

1 – 4 Weeks: 15 – 18 hours recommended. Newborns sleep a majority of the day, but in short periods usually lasting between two and four hours. At this stage, newborns have not yet developed an internal biological clock; therefore, they sleep without differentiating between night and day.

1 – 4 Months: 14 – 15 hours recommended. Babies at this age slowly begin to develop more regularity when it comes to their sleep patterns. They also sleep for longer periods at a time, usually between four and six hours.

4 – 12 Months: 14 – 15 hours recommended. At this age, 15 hours of sleep is the absolute ideal. Three naps are about average throughout the course of the day: the midmorning nap around 9 AM, the early afternoon nap between 12 and 2 PM and the late afternoon nap between 3 and 5 PM. At around 6 months of age, the number of naps can be reduced to two and babies gain the ability to sleep throughout the entire night.

1 – 3 Years: 12 – 14 hours recommended. Between one and three years of age, toddlers begin to nap only once a day, typically sometime in the early or late afternoon. They start to establish a more regular sleep routine, usually going to bed between 7 and 9 PM and waking between 6 and 8 AM.

3 – 6 Years: 10 -12 hours recommended. Children at this stage tend to keep the same sleep routine, but there is a slow reduction of napping. At three years old, the majority of children are still napping. By five years of age, very few children require a nap each day to function.

7 – 12 Years: 10 – 11 hours recommended. Children start to become very involved with school, homework, activities and friends, meaning there is less time available in the day for sleeping.  On average, children of this age only receive about nine hours of sleep per night, slightly below the recommended amount.

12 – 18 Years: 8 – 9 hours recommended. As teenagers, the combination of homework, activities and managing an active social life can become overwhelming.  Teenagers have difficulty finding the time for adequate sleep, which is essential to proper function of the body.

As a parent, it is important that you establish sound sleep patterns for your children. Children should be provided with an environment for quality sleep to ensure that they are getting the recommended amount of sleep for their age. By doing this, you will help your children to mentally and physically develop at a normal, healthy rate. Speak with family practice specialists in Phoenix for some helpful sleep tips.

If you are interested in learning more about child development, make an appointment with one of Pediatrix’s friendly, knowledgeable pediatricians in Phoenix. Our experienced pediatricians are well versed in child wellness, performing necessary examinations and checkups to sustain a child’s health. Visit our family practice specialists in Phoenix today. Call Pediatrix at (602) 866-0550 or contact us online with any comments, questions or concerns. Our Phoenix pediatric specialists would be more than happy to help.


Subir K. Mitra, MD FAAP

Posted in Blog on January 17th, 2013