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Why is sleep important?

Sleep is vital to human life. While we are sleeping:

  • muscles, bones, and skin are repairing themselves
  • the immune system is strengthening itself
  • the brain is sorting through the input it received during the day, discarding what it doesn’t need, and solidifying what it does need

A common myth is that if children have a lot of energy, they must be getting enough sleep. In fact, hyperactivity or “being wired” can be a red flag that your child is not getting enough sleep, and that their body is compensating for being over-tired.

How much sleep do we need in a day?

  • 0-3 Years: 16-20 hours in 1-4 hour periods
  • 3-6 Years: 10-11 hours
  • 6-12 Years: 10-11 hours; daytime sleepiness is rare
  • 13-19 Years: 8-9 hours; daytime sleepiness is common

Signs that your child may have a sleep problem:

  • apnea (snoring, pauses in breathing, or gasping for breath during sleep)
  • difficulty falling asleep at night
  • frequent waking in the night
  • complaints of leg pain or restlessness in the night
  • looking to a parent for help to fall asleep
  • night terrors
  • sleepwalking/sleep talking
  • behaviour problems, hyperactivity, problems with attention and/or memory, mood swings
  • difficulty staying awake during the day

Sleep problems are not uncommon but often go undiagnosed. Please talk with your physician for a referral to the London Pediatric Sleep Clinic if you believe your child had a sleep disorder.

Web resources

For a printable tip sheet click here.

Developmental Resource Centre Waterloo RegionSunbeam Centre