New Sleep Recs from American Academy of Sleep Medicine

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has come out with its latest recommendations that will help parents ensure that their children perform well in school and stay healthy.

Infants from 4 months to 12 months should be sleeping 12 to 16 hours a day, the recommendations say. Kids from 1- to 2-years-old need 11 to 14 hours daily. Youngsters from 3- to 5-years-old require 10 to 13 hours of sleep, and children from 6- to 12-years-old should sleep 9 to 12 hours each night. And teenagers who are 13- to 18-years-old should be getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep time.

Aria Hangyu Chen, writing for CNN, quoted Dr. Shalini Paruthi, moderator of the Pediatric Consensus Panel, made up of 13 experts in the field of sleep, and a fellow of the academy:

"Sleep is essential to good health, and it starts in childhood. These recommendations [are] kind of a first step to help people to understand that they need to prioritize sleep."

The panel reviewed 864 studies for ten months to find how the duration of sleep is related to general health, human performance, cardiovascular health, immunologic function, metabolic health, developmental health, and mental health.

"This is the first time we went through such a scientifically rigorous method to arrive to those recommendations," Paruthi said.

The panel found that when a person sleeps for the recommended number of hours over a 24-hour period the results were improved attention, physical health, behavior, mental health, learning, emotional regulation, and quality of life.

The results of sleeping less or more than the recommendations, however, can create such unfavorable results as health problems, obesity, hypertension, mental health difficulties, and diabetes.

And teenagers have a particular list of dilemmas related to not getting the proper amount of sleep, including feelings of hopelessness, illicit drug use, alcohol use, suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts, increased tobacco use, and a higher risk of automobile accidents.

In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics called the lack of sleep among adolescents "a public health issue." The academy recommended that schools consider starting no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Currently, 18% of US schools follow these guidelines.

But Dr. Paruthi said starting schools later is just one piece of the puzzle.

"Kids are really busy these days," she said. "Extracurricular activities, sports, clubs. … There is a lot of social media. There is a lot of distractions … being on their computers, on their phones. And certainly, there is homework."

A recent CDC study found that a third of adults in America are not getting enough sleep, either. Developing healthy sleep habits as a young person can be a "starting point" for bringing the emphasis on getting the correct amount of sleep into adulthood.

The consensus statement and the supporting evidence will be published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

The researchers are saying that America is a sleep-deprived nation, says CBS New York's Dr. Max Gomez. Parents who have busy schedules and children with multiple extracurricular activities make it understandable that parents are struggling to make sure their kids are getting enough sleep.

Dr. Corinne Cross, an AAP spokesperson, explained:

"Sometimes you do have to think about what is it my child really enjoys doing. Those are going to be our priorities and maybe we don't need to do every sport," Dr. Cross said.

Reuters shares a list of suggestions to promote better sleep for children gathered from Dr. Stuart F. Chan of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, who helped write the new American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) guidelines. The list included removing cell phones, TVs, tablets, and other devices from the bedroom when it is time to sleep. They can be distracting and the light emitted can delay sleep onset.

Schedule after school activities, including homework, at times that will not take away from adequate sleep hours, and avoid intense activity before bedtime.

And keep sleeping schedules intact on weekdays, weekends, and during school holidays.

LiveScience's Agata Blaszcak-Boxe reports that if children are sleepy during the day in spite of parents following the new sleep regulations, they should consult a doctor to check for a possible sleep disorder.

Scientists noted that there were no cause-and-effect conclusions related to their findings.

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