How much sleep does a 9-year-old need?

This is a question that has just been asked to me by my OH. It’s just shortly after 9pm on a Sunday evening and Tom has just been driven up to his bed. Every night is the same in our house (especially school nights); Tom has to be forced up the stairs into his bed. We’ve had always tried to get him into his bed for around 8pm, especially if he has to get up in the morning for school, but recently it seems to be getting later and later. Sometimes, I am sorry to say. I have even seen it turning 10pm and he still is messing about when he should be sound asleep.

Searching online we realised that Tom wasn’t getting enough sleep that he should be. Not nearly enough. Well…all depending on what website you go to depends on how much sleep they suggest. For Tom, who turned 9 a few months back, some websites suggested 12 hours, others 10 and some even mention only needing 8. I’ll not mention the site I read this on but to me, 8 hours is simply not enough. If Tom was only to get 8 hours sleep that would mean going to sleep at 12 and then waking up at 8 for school. Which to me is just barbaric.

I’ve noticed that although Tom can do with less sleep that he used to a few years ago, he still requires a minimum of 10 hours a night. If he doesn’t get this you can’t even look at him in the morning. There have even been a few times that we’ve been unable to wake him, thankfully this hasn’t happened a weekday so he hasn’t missed any days from school. It can still be a tad annoying however when you need him to get up for a certain time.

Reading more into why children need the right amount of sleep I found it quite interesting, as it’s something that I’ve just taken for granted. I always knew that children needed sleep the same way that adults need sleep but more of it. I just didn’t, however, I didn’t realise just how more significant it was for them. For example, it has been suggested that not getting enough sleep can affect growth and your immune system. This is probably the reason that I seem to catch everything that’s going about.

According to valley sleep centre, an American based company which ‘provides complete sleep health management including sleep studies, diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.’, there are 10 reasons that children need sleep. These reasons and their explanations are as follows

  1.  It Gives Their Body a Break – Sleep is like a daily spa vacation for the body.  It is a time when cells rejuvenate, muscles rebuild, and our bodies restore themselves.  Without sleep, our bodies don’t have the downtime they need to keep themselves active and agile for the next day’s activities.
  2. It Lets Their Brain De-clutter – Research indicates that sorting, storing, and filing away information, memories, and experiences may be one of the central functions that our brains perform during sleep.  Without sleep, it’s a clutter, disorganized mess.
  3. It Helps Regulate Emotions – Anyone who has spent an afternoon with a tired toddler knows that the most pleasant child, or adult for that matter, can turn as prickly as a cactus if they don’t get enough sleep.  Being overtired can make it difficult to manage our emotions and everyday things can make us cranky, irritable, and too grumpy to be around.
  4. It Helps Them Grow – While scientists haven’t proven a distinct connection between sleep deprivation in children and stunted growth, there is a connection between sleep and the release of growth hormones.  Getting enough sleep guarantees that our bodies are producing the right amount of hormones and chemicals at the right times to keep us growing and going strong.
  5. It Builds Up Their Resistance – Getting enough sleep seems to boost your immune system or rather not getting enough sleep seems to hurt your immune system’s ability to respond, according to researchers in Brazil.  They found that white blood cell counts of rats dropped by 20% when they were deprived of sleep.  That’s a heck of a hit to take in the middle of cold and flu season.
  6. It Protects Their Mental Health – New research shows there may be a link between persistent sleep difficulties in childhood and mental health problems like depression, anxiety disorders, and alcohol abuse later in life.  Additional research needs to be done to further prove these new theories, but in the meantime, making sure children get the sleep they need is a critical part of keeping them healthy, either way.
  7. It Helps Them Make and Keep Friends – Just as emotional regulation suffers when we are sleep deprived, so do our relationships with other people.  A recent study showed that many children who display aggressive behaviours in school and bully other children are simply not getting enough sleep.  Give your child a great start at building relationships by helping them build great sleep habits.
  8. It Helps Them Stay Healthy – Another area of study in sleep medicine is the potential link between not getting enough sleep and gaining weight and the preliminary findings are not good.  Not getting enough sleep may be a huge factor in weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.
  9. It Lets Them Learn –When you are tired you have more trouble paying attention, are less able to acquire and process new knowledge, struggle with critical thinking, and are often unable to effectively store and retrieve information from our memory.  All of these things are critical components of learning and kids who are overtired and sleep deprived won’t have access to the mental faculties they need to learn the basic skills they need to have.
  10. It Gives Them Energy – The verdict is still out on how sleep and energy are related, but the cause and effects are pretty clear in our kids.  When they don’t get enough sleep, they lack energy.  This can cause serious problems if they are active in sports teams, after-school activities, or other pursuits that require a sustainable supply of energy.

Reading through these has made me really think about the amount of sleep that not only Tom is getting but me and my OH as well. I will admit that I love my sleep and the more that I get the happier I am. I do, however like most people and more often than I should, not get enough and I know that it affects my day. This is the reason why from now on not only will Tom have a set bedtime (especially on school nights) but I will as well.  I will be trying to get the 8 hours that are required for me to be able to function the next day. I can’t speak for my OH, but I’m hoping that he will follow suit.

Anyway friends, thanks for reading, make sure and like, share, comment and if you have any suggestions please don’t hesitate to gimme a shout!  J xxx

Disclaimer

**Some of the words from this post are referenced from – valleysleepcenter.com

**The opinions in this post are no-ones but my own.

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