Sleep and Kids

 

There are a lot of clinical issues that patients come in for, but rarely do I see someone just for sleep. However, sleep appears to be a rather HUGE issue in most of my patients with anxiety. A few things I discuss with parents of kids and teenagers regarding sleep getting in the way of anxiety, school, relationships and responsibilities:

  1. Eliminate naps-naps throw off our regular circadian rhythm and can disturb the quality and quantity of sleep overnight. There are exceptions to this rule (e.g., if you just had a newborn baby and they and you need naps (only for a shorter-term duration) or if you are physically ill).
  2. Make sure to go to bed by a decent time. This translates to at least before 1130 if you are a teenager. Teenagers in high school have to get up around 530-630 am. Falling asleep, not just being in bed, but actually sleeping, at 1130 only gives one between 6-7 hours, which is still under the minimal for sleep recommendations in this age range.
  3. Know the normal age range for sleep for your child:
    1. Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
    2. Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
    3. Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
    4. Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13
    5. School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
    6. Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5
    7. Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
    8. Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
    9. Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

(information copied and pasted from the National Sleep Foundation, 2015 studies).

  1. Being tired is not an indication that you need to sleep more (i.e., more sleep won’t necessarily fix that feeling of “tiredness.”)
  2. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule for your kids as best you can.
  3. Limit access to any screens (ipad, tv, computer) at least 1 hour before bedtime (you want to mimic the signs your body naturally receives when the sun sets. If your body perceives light, it thinks it needs to wake up and become activated).

 There are many more sleep remediation points for discussion, but these are some good ones to get covered on your own.

Author:

I am a clinical psychologist with approximately 15 years of experience assessing and treating anxiety and depressive disorders in young children, adolescents, young adults, adults and geriatric populations. I completed a 6-year predoctoral training award at the National Institute of Mental Health, and postdoctoral training at the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital. From my clinical and research experiences, I have come to see the struggles of many families deciding when to pursue professional help and feeling very lost in the process. I will address several mental health issues that will help educate and empower my readers to make better mental health decisions for themselves. Welcome to my blog! Johanna Kaplan, Ph.D. Disclaimer-This blog is not and cannot be used in replace of formal therapy. This blog is used to inform and educate and is not a form of informal or formal advice.

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