Children and Sleep

Sleep can be ongoing challenge of parenthood, from sleep training your infant to getting your teenager to turn off her electronic device of choice and go to bed.  As reported in Psychiatric News, the print and online news service of the American Psychiatric Association, a consensus panel of sleep experts recently convened by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) issued recommendations for child and adolescent sleep.  These recommendations were based on a review of 864 scientific publications on sleep duration and health in pediatric populations.

Based on the Psychiatric News report, the AASM panel concluded that there is a strong association between regularly obtaining the recommended number of hours of sleep and children and adolescents’ attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and overall health.  For instance, less sleep is associated with increased risk of accidents and injuries, as well as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and depression.

According to longitudinal research, children who slept poorly and got less than average amounts of sleep in their first year or two of life had more emotional, social, and behavioral difficulties than their typically-sleeping peers did several years later.  Studies of adolescents provide the most compelling evidence for the link between shorter sleep duration and mental health concerns, such as the presence suicidal thoughts or behavior and substance use.

Based on their review, the AASM panel determined a range of evidence-based hours of sleep for each age group, which has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Age 4-12 months: 12-16 hours of sleep (including naps)

Age 1-2 years: 11-14 hours of sleep (including naps)

Age 3-5 years: 10-13 hours of sleep (including naps)

Age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours of sleep

Age 13-18 years: 8-10 hours of sleep

Age 18+ years: 7+ hours of sleep

If your infant, child, or adolescent is experiencing problems with sleep, whether it be resisting naps or going to bed at night, problems falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting restful sleep, or night terrors, the psychologists at Georgetown Psychology Associates can help.  We provide consultation and coaching to parents so they have the guidance and support they need to help their children with this important developmental task.  As evidenced by research such as that addressed above, sleep difficulties can be related to other emotional and behavioral challenges; as such, we provide therapy for children, adolescents, and adults as well.


Lamberg, L. (September 15, 2016). Sleep experts issue recommendations for children and adolescent sleep. Psychiatric News: Clinical and Research News. Retrieved from

American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM):