Although it is widely acknowledged that sufficient sleep is necessary for children and teenagers to avoid health risks and optimize health, a new study is the first to release official sleep recommendations for various age groups.
The recommendations follow a 10-month project conducted by a Pediatric Consensus Panel of 13 of the nation’s foremost sleep experts. The guidelines are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Sleep Research Society and the American Association of Sleep Technologists.
The expert panel reviewed 864 published scientific articles addressing the relationship between sleep duration and health in children, evaluated the evidence using a formal grading system, and arrived at the final recommendations after multiple rounds of voting.
The Pediatric Consensus Panel found that sleeping the number of recommended hours on a regular basis is associated with overall better health outcomes. Sleeping the recommended number of hours was associated with improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health.
The panel found that sleeping fewer than the recommended hours is associated with attention, behavior, and learning problems. Insufficient sleep also increases the risk of accidents, injuries, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and depression.
Researchers also found that insufficient sleep in teenagers is associated with increased risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts.
The consensus statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
The recommendations in the consensus statement are as follows:
- Infants four to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children one to two years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children three to five years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children six to 12 years of age should sleep nine to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep eight to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
“Sleep is essential for a healthy life, and it is important to promote healthy sleep habits in early childhood,” said Dr. Shalini Paruthi, a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
“It is especially important as children reach adolescence to continue to ensure that teens are able to get sufficient sleep.”
“More than a third of the U.S. population is not getting enough sleep, and for children who are in the critical years of early development, sleep is even more crucial,” said Dr. Nathaniel Watson, 2015 – 2016 president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
“Making sure there is ample time for sleep is one of the best ways to promote a healthy lifestyle for a child.”
Additionally, the panel found that regularly sleeping more than the recommended hours may be associated with adverse health outcomes such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and mental health problems.