Sleep check-up! Is your child getting enough sleep? And how he could get more.

Sleep is a critical component of a child’s healthy development. Dr. Meg provides age-appropriate benchmarks for sleep quantity and quality.
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Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
September 25, 2020
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2
Minute Read

As a pediatrician, I know how critical sleep is to a child. As a parent, I know you know this too, especially during back-to-school time.

Whether your child is doing online school or in-person, she needs adequate sleep as she adjusts to her new schedule.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ provides the following guidelines for how much sleep children need at night:

  • Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours (including naps).
  • Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours.
  • Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours.

Is your child getting adequate sleep? Many kids aren’t, and sleep deprivation in children can have serious effects on their physical and mental well-being. Consider the studies cited in this report:

  • “Short sleep duration (less than 10 hours per night by maternal report) and nocturnal awakenings (more than three times per night) in toddlers were associated with the development of behavioral and emotional problems at age 5.”
  • “Sleep problems at age 4 have been found to predict a greater incidence of behavioral and emotional problems emerging by mid-adolescence.”
  • “A large cross-sectional study of adolescents identified associations between short sleep duration and emotional problems, peer conflict, and suicidal ideation.”

Sleep is important for children and adolescents. What is one of the biggest modern-day culprits inhibiting our sleep?


You guessed it. Screens.

Our phones, tablets, laptops, and televisions are detrimental to our sleep and sleep for our kids. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children who spend a lot of time in front of a screen “go to bed later, take longer to fall asleep and sleep fewer hours.”

Screen use just before bed and keeping electronic devices in the bedroom has a high correlation with poor sleep quality in children and adolescents and is associated with tiredness in children during the day. This is largely due to something called the  “blue light effect.” 

Electronic devices emit an artificial blue light that suppresses the body’s release of melatonin—our body’s sleep hormone. When this hormone isn’t released properly, it greatly affects our sleep.

I see this happen to kids all the time. Parents come into my practice asking why their child is so tired during the day. They want tests for anemia, thyroid problems, and other medical issues. Often, however, the cause of their fatigue is the inability to fall asleep because they are on their phones too late.

Rather than battle with your child over whether or not to have the phone in his room, I suggest changing your strategy. The Gabb phone is one way to do this.

The GABB phone gives kids many of the bells and whistles of the smartphone but doesn’t allow them to download game apps or access the internet. Without these, your child will be far less tempted to play stimulating video games or scroll social media.

I trust the Gabb company because they put a child’s welfare first, as I do. They know kids are happier when they play outside more. They know their grades improve when they aren’t sucked into too much screen time, and they value real, in-person connection. Their phone frees kids up to have more of this in their lives, in addition to better sleep.

It’s not often I link directly to a product on this site, so when I do, you know I trust it. This is one simple and affordable way to improve your child’s sleep, and therefore, his well-being.

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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