For the first time, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has released official consensus recommendations for the amount of sleep needed to promote optimal health in children and teenagers to avoid the health risks of insufficient sleep.
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; and 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, Paediatric Consensus Panel moderator and 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.”
The recommendations follow a 10-month project conducted by a Paediatric Consensus Panel of 13 of the nation’s foremost sleep experts, and are endorsed by the American Academy of Paediatrics, 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 Paediatric Consensus Panel found that sleeping the number of recommended hours on a regular basis is associated with overall better health outcomes including: improved attention, behaviour, 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, behaviour and learning problems. Insufficient sleep also increases the risk of accidents, injuries, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and depression. The panel also found that insufficient sleep in teenagers is associated with increased risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
“More than a third of the US 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.
The benefits of healthy sleep require not only adequate sleep duration, but also appropriate timing, daily regularity, good sleep quality and the absence of sleep disorders. Parents who are concerned that their child is sleeping too little or too much should consult a doctor.
Shalini Paruthi; Lee J Brooks; Carolyn D’Ambrosio; Wendy A Hall; Suresh Kotagal; Robin M. Lloyd; Beth A. Malow; Kiran Maski; Cynthia Nichols; Stuart F Quan; Carol L Rosen; Matthew M Troester; Merrill S Wise