American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has endorsed new recommended sleep times for children and teenagers of up to 12 hours and 10 hours respectively, based on data from American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

The recommendations for optimal sleep time for differently aged children were first given by AASM in a consensus statement published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine 2016.

This is the first time that AASM has given out any kind of recommendations for sleep needed by young children and teenagers in order to avoid the risk of adverse health outcomes associated with a lack of sleep.

The sleep recommendations to promote optimal health in children are as follows:

  • Infants aged 4 to 12 months are recommended to sleep for 12 to 16 hours per day, including naps
  • Children aged 1 to 2 years are recommended to sleep for 11 to 14 hours per day, including naps
  • Children aged 3 to 5 years are recommended to sleep for 10 to 13 hours per day including naps
  • Children aged six to twelve years are recommended to sleep for 9 to 12 hours per day
  • Teenagers are recommended to sleep for 8 to 10 hours per day

The findings published by the Academy are based on a ten-month project conducted by a consensus panel of 13 sleep experts from all over the country. The panel reviewed 864 scientific studies before coming up with optimal time periods of sleep for differently aged children and adults.

The panel will present its findings at the 30th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS) in Denver, commonly known as SLEEP 2016.

Besides the American Academy of Pediatrics, the recommendations have also been endorsed by the Sleep Research Society and American Association of Sleep Technologists.

Sleep recommendations for children and adults are given by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Last updated suggestions for sleep durations were given in February 2015 which were also endorsed by the AAP.

This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age specific sleep durations based on a systematic review of relevant literature from all over the world, according to the chairman of board for NSF, Dr Charles A Czeisler (PHD, MD).

Those recommendations were almost consistent with the new ones given by AASM with recommended durations at 12-15 hours (for children of ages of 4-11 months), 11-14 hours (for children of ages 1-2 years), 10-13 hours (for children of ages 3-5 years), 9-11 (for children of ages 6-13 years) and 8-10 hours (for children of ages 14-17 years).

Young adults at the age of 18 were included in the next category of 18 to 25 years with the recommended sleep duration of 7 to 9 hours daily.

Need For Sleep Recommendations

Nathaniel Watson, the 2015-2016 president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine remarked in a statement of AASM that nearly third of United States Population does not get enough sleep and for children, it is crucial to get adequate sleep in early years for their development.

The moderator for the Pediatric Consensus panel, Dr Shalini Paruthi, also a fellow of American Academy of Sleep, highlighted the importance of sleep and explained that it is significant to establish healthy sleep habits at a young age.

She stressed that from childhood to adolescence and then into the teen period, it is essential to ensure that a person is getting enough sleep.

Wendy Hall, the only Canadian in the panel and a professor of nursing at University of British Columbia agreed with Dr Shalini and spoke on the significance of the study. These recommendations would help moderate the sleep patterns in the children, which is quite beneficial as previously many studies have shown negative consequences for children who do not get enough sleep, according to Dr Hall.

The research suggests that children who stick to these sleep durations are likely to have improved memory, attention span, emotional regulation, mental health, behavior and physical health.

Speaking on the idea and process of coming up with these recommendations, Dr Hall said that the focus was primarily on coming up with scientific basis and sound evidence to support these recommendations. This was so that the idea that anything goes for children’s sleep could be negated.

Dr Hall recommended putting school aged children and children younger than that to bed by nine at night. She suggested that parents should take steps to ensure that their children are getting enough sleep.

The report warns that the failure to achieve adequate sleep could result into problems in learning and behavior. Other problems can include obesity, depression, diabetes, and risk of injuries. In teenagers problems like increased risk of selfharm, suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts have been observed as a result of lack of sleep.

Sleeping too much can also lead to harmful consequences like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and mental health problems, according to the study.