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Pediatrician: Kids need more sleep than you think

Dr. Jennifer Krause said children aged 6 to 12 years old need 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night. (File)

March is Sleep Health Month, and doctors say children need different amounts of sleep based on their age.

KRCG 13 spoke talked with SSM Health Medical Group Pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Krause about how your kids may need more sleep than you might expect.

"Young children need more sleep than older children,” Dr. Krause said. “That’s the obvious part though. What might surprise most people is that most school aged kids than many parents might realize.”

Dr. Krause said the proper amount of sleep is anywhere from nine to twelve hours every night for children 6 to 12 years old, and eight to ten hours of sleep per night for teenagers.

Her suggestion for making sure your kids get the sleep they need: make changes gradually. "First, just make sure the child's getting enough sleep,” she said. “If they're not, then you can gradually tweak bed time up a little bit at a time, maybe fifteen minutes a night, until you get to that goal range."

Dr. Krause said healthy rest for children isn’t just a matter of how many hours kids do or don’t spend in bed. She said it’s also important to check the quality of your child’s rest.

"An important thing to look for is snoring,” she said. “A lot of people snore, and usually it doesn't cause problems, but sometimes snoring can disrupt sleep. So even if a child got a full night's sleep, they might not be well-rested the next day."

Dr. Krause said lack of quality sleep can frequently show up in the classroom.

"Children in school who aren't sleeping well or getting enough sleep can show signs of ADHD, they can have difficulty learning, they can fall asleep at school,” she said. “Or even more frequently, they can be fidgety because they're trying to stay awake. They can be irritable, or perhaps have a shorter temper."

Dr. Krause said making little changes in your children's sleep schedule can make a big difference: "Most parents would be surprised by what just half an hour of extra sleep can do for their kids."

Set your kids up for success in school and beyond by making consistent bed times and quality sleep a priority this month, and tune in to KRCG 13 next Friday at 5 p.m. for our next Family First segment – we’ll talk with a physician about how to start small to get the most out of exercise.

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