Sleep duration varies between children

By Tom Nordlie • Published: March 11th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s eight o’clock and the battle of bedtime begins. Again.

Junior wants a snack, a story, a drink, a toy… everything except a trip to dreamland.

Parents, if this routine sounds familiar, we have some news… maybe your child needs a later bedtime.

According to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics, different kids need different amounts of sleep.

That runs contrary to decades of advice prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach.

The data come from a long-term Swiss study of child development, one of the largest ever conducted.

Researchers interviewed the parents of about three-hundred children as they grew from age nine months to almost ten years.

The results showed wide variation between different kids.

For example, at age five, they averaged anywhere from nine-and-a-half to more than thirteen hours’ sleep in a twenty-four-hour period.

Sleep duration gradually decreased with age, but individual habits stayed consistent… kids who slept more as babies kept doing so later.

There was no overall difference in sleep duration between boys and girls.

Similarly, a child’s height and weight development had no correlation to the amount of time spent sleeping.

Of course, many youngsters do suffer from sleeping problems… twenty to thirty percent, according to studies.

So if Junior’s resisting bedtime, yet having trouble waking up or staying awake, or if he acts cranky, overtired or hyperemotional, that’s cause for concern.

When in doubt, see a doctor. That way, maybe the whole family can sleep easier.