A new study reveals children aged 12 and younger function best if they go to bed before 9:00 p.m., and are prone to increased health risks if they stay up late.

The panel of pediatric specialists, led by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), have produced adolescent sleep recommendations based on the age of the child:

  • Infants (4-12 months): 12 to 16 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11 to 14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10 to 13 hours
  • School-age children (6-12 years): 9 to 12 hours
  • Teenagers (13-18 years): 8 to 10 hours

The results were concluded after extensive pediatric research whereby the panel analyzed how sleep impacts cardiovascular development, mental health, metabolic rates, immunology, and life performance.

UBC sleep specialist and nursing professor Wendy Hall sees sleep deprivation as a growing trend that many parents don’t know how to tackle.

“Reading a book, telling a story, singing a song, or getting into a toothbrush routine help kids settle into sleep better,” says Hall. “Banning electronic devices from the bedroom also helps.”

She adds that keeping children’s bedrooms “dark, cool and quiet” are also keys to sleep success. Without adequate duration, timing, quality, regularity and an absence of disturbances, children are prone to a variety of health problems:

  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Difficulty focusing and retaining language, aggressive behaviour and less social
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years): Memory consolidation, language development difficulties and lesser quality of life
  • School-age children (5-12 years): Increased odds of obesity and higher levels of cellular inflammation and insulin resistance
  • Teenagers (13-18 years): More likely to suffer athletic injuries, higher levels of cellular inflammation and insulin resistance

Sleep experts are recommending that both children and adults educate themselves on proper sleep regulation. “Sleep routines are critical for kids of all ages,” says Hall.