If you're a mother, chances are you've experienced stress at some point or another about your child's sleep. Are they sleeping enough? We know that kids need a lot of sleep to learn and grow, but how much sleep do they actually need?
According to a piece in Today's Parent, there have been some studies that have recently come out with results that show what we used to think about children's sleep may be wrong. Traditionally, we have heard that kids need a lot of sleep, somewhere in the range of 11-13 hrs for 3 to 5 year olds, 10 or 11 hours for 5-10year-olds, and 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep for 10 to 17 year-olds. Additionally, the studies they cited all seem to have found conflicting results when it comes to children's sleep needs.
The Today's Parent article cited a study from Brigham Young University as showing that kids performed better in an academic sense with less sleep than previously thought. This looked like 10 year-olds sleeping approximately 9-9.5 hours, 12 year-olds sleeping 8.5 hours and 16 year-olds sleeping for a mere 7 hours. Another study they cited from Pediatrics, claimed that sleep guidelines in general weren't of much practical use at all.
The third study they looked at showed that even losing a single hour of sleep could have detrimental effects on the child's functioning. That study claimed that 10 hours was a good ballpark for the amount of hours that children should be getting, however it did qualify to add that every child is different.
Ultimately, it seems that despite the amount of research that is being put into finding the answers, we don't really know for sure what is the optimal amount of sleep for kids. Most parents tend to act on tiredness cues when it comes to their children, and it seems that this may continue to be the best gauge for what your child needs.
It seems that either way, children need enough sleep to make sure that they are growing and functioning at a proper level. However there doesn't seem to be some magical definitive number yet that can give us the answers when it comes to children's sleep requirements.