How much sleep does your child need?

EVER wondered how much sleep your youngsters really need?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has released guidelines on the optimal amount of shut-eye from four months old to adulthood.

Unsurprisingly, babies came in at the top of the list for the most sleep required, with tots needing 16 hours. The guidelines said teenagers should be getting eight to ten hours sleep, but that can vary depending on exact age.

Experts said a good night's rest is just as important for children as healthy eating and exercise.

Studies have shown children who don't get enough sleep are at a greater risk of obesity when they get older, as sleep deprivation leads to increased cravings for energy dense, sugary or starchy foods.

Insufficient sleep can also increase the risk of diabetes, accidents and depression.

The sleep experts worked with the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop these recommendations:

• 12 to 16 hours for infants aged 4-12 months, babies younger than four months were not included as they have a wide range of normal sleep patterns.
• 11 to 14 hours for children aged 1-2 years.
• 10 to 13 hours for children aged 3-5 years.
• 9 to 12 hours for children aged 6-12 years.
• 8 to 10 hours for teens aged 13-18 years.

Signs children are getting enough sleep include getting up easily in the morning, staying alert during the day, and maintaining a good mood over the course of the day.

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