A big part of your child's health depends on them getting a good night's sleep, but for most parents, getting the kids to bed on time and staying asleep all night is pretty tricky.

Determining the right amount of sleep for your child's age is the key to ensuring they stay healthy and hit their development milestones. Learn to recognize the signs of childhood exhaustion, too, so you can take any necessary steps to encourage healthier sleeping patterns.

Risks of Exhaustion in Children

If your child isn't getting enough sleep for an extended period of time, the side effects could be detrimental.

From irritability and a lack of emotional regulation to learning problems and decreased brain development, child exhaustion can lead to a host of problems that while correctable, can cause major headaches for parents, teachers, and others in their lives.

tired child falling asleep at school


Many Children Don't Sleep Enough

Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for children to sleep too little. According to a 2018 study published by the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated one-third of children aged four months to 17 years aren't getting enough sleep.

The study also noted that children who had regular bedtimes were more likely to have sufficient sleep than those who didn't follow a routine.

little boy reading in bed under the covers


Exhaustion Looks Different at Different Ages

Whether your child is an infant, a toddler, or a teenager will affect their signs and symptoms of exhaustion and there are several reasons for this. Mostly, it's because our ability to communicate effectively changes as we grow and age. While a baby can't express their exhaustion vocally, a teenager can.

little girl falling asleep at her work desk


Sleep Needs Vary With Age, Too

A newborn baby up to three months old needs as many as 17 hours of sleep per day, including naps during the daytime.

As babies age, the need for sleep decreases. Infants from four months to one year require 12 to 16 hours per day, toddlers up to two years require 11 to 14 hours, and preschool-aged children require 10 to 13. Once kids reach school age, they only need between eight and 12 hours of sleep a night.

little girl waking up in bed in the morning


Exhaustion in Babies and Toddlers

Research has shown that the negative effects of exhaustion in babies can be lasting and include lapses in growth and speech, as well as issues with memory and cognitive development.

Signs that babies and toddlers are exhausted include irritability, eye rubbing, ear pulling, and of course, yawning. Toddlers may also become clingy or hyperactive.

little boy having a temper tantrum


Exhaustion in Older Children and Adolescents

Children who are exhausted can be difficult to wake in the morning and may experience mood swings and issues at school due to an inability to concentrate.

Signs of exhaustion in teenagers are very much the same, with exhausted adolescents often exhibiting emotional outbursts and difficulty concentrating at school.

distracted teenager in school library trying to study


Sleep Hygiene is Crucial

Sleep hygiene refers to how healthy sleep routines are. When it comes to children, regular bedtimes and before-bed rituals are essential to mood and so much more.

Rituals should include activities that keep your child calm and relaxed, such as a bath, a book, and a lullaby before going to sleep. If the same steps are followed every night before bed, the body begins to recognize these as cues to prepare for rest, and getting the child to sleep should get easier.

little girl and dad brushing teeth before bedtime


Avoid Screen Time Before Bed

By now, most people know that screen time in the hour or so before bed can severely affect sleep.

Research has shown that a large part of this is due to the blue light that's emitted by televisions, tablets, and cell phones. Instead of screens before bed, consider reading with your child, working on a puzzle, or having a quiet conversation about their day.

mother and daughter reading in bed before sleep


Physical Activity Can Help

An active child is more likely to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. By ensuring your child enjoys enough physical activity during the day, you can help them work toward a healthier, happier lifestyle in general.

In school, kids are usually getting all the exercise they need, but on days they're at home, take time to walk to the playground, toss a ball around in the backyard, or head to the swimming pool to make sure they're working off the energy that could otherwise interfere with sleep.

little girl and mom running along a path


Create an Environment That's Conducive to Sleep

A bedroom that's calming and designed to promote healthy sleep is ideal for everyone, whatever their age. While it can be tempting to decorate a child's bedroom with the things they love most, such as movie posters and toys, that could be making it more difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Instead, ensure their room is decorated with calming colors, minimal clutter, and ideal lighting for sleep.

cozy child's bedroom


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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.