Sleep and children – the importance of sleep

Sleep and children – the importance of sleep for growing children

The dreaded bedtime. To a child, being told it’s time to go to bed sounds like a penalty. Common reactions are crying, petitioning for extra time, throwing a tantrum and sulking. Sympathetic as you may be, knowing when to be strict, for the benefit of your little one, is vital.

Adequate sleep is one of the most essential requirements for the development and well-being of growing children. To recuperate and gain energy to take on a new day, the body needs that small vacation. Sleep contributes to mental and physical performance such as sports and memory. Getting inadequate rest can lead to problems at school, behavioural issues and physical exertion.

According to Sleep For Kids, this is how much sleep children need.



  Hours Of Sleep


0 – 2 months


   10.5 – 18
2 – 12 months


   14 – 15
1 – 3 years


   12 – 14
3 – 5 years


   11 – 13
5 – 12 years    10 – 11



Here are some tips for regulating your child’s sleep cycle

Have a bedtime routine – children should get into a routine for bed time and this should be the same every day. For example, brushing their teeth, changing, reading a book and going to bed.

Set a bed time – bed time should be at the same time every night. Do not decide on a bed time based on when they are tired. Choose an appropriate time and stick to it. Their time to sleep and to wake up should be the same in order to regulate their sleep cycles.

Physical exercise – getting enough physical exercise during the day and using up energy helps to get good sleep. However, enough sleep is needed in order to get that energy back for the next day.

Limit caffeine and sugar products, in general and more so before bed time

Don’t do activities or watch programs that may encourage them to be hyper – stick to calm activities such as reading a book. Leave their favourite relaxing activities for bed time.

Positivity – put them to bed with some child-parent affection, some conversation and a positive atmosphere.

If your child wakes up in the middle of the night regularly, try to send them back to bed quietly so they can fall back asleep.

By Komal Qaiser