Child Health
Children and Staying up Late

​​​Overview:

Sleep is a pillar for a child's mental and physical health. In children, sleep is a dynamic process that develops and changes as they grow older. During their growth, children may learn sleep habits that may be good or bad for them. Once these habits are developed, they may last for months or even years.
Understanding children's sleep needs is the first step towards providing them with better sleep, through a combination of good sleep techniques, an age-appropriate routine, and attention to any sleep disorders. Moreover, helping children get the rest they need helps them become stronger and healthier. 

Sleep is important for children:
Sleep plays a major role in the development of the human brain. In addition, it has a direct effect on happiness. Research shows that sleep affects alertness, attention, cognitive performance, mood, flexibility, vocabulary acquisition, learning, and memory. Sleep also has significant effects on development, especially in early childhood. In young children, naps are necessary to enhance memory and develop motor skills.
Recommended sleep hours for children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
​​Age
​Age Recommended hours of sleep per day (24 hours)​
​Newborns (4-12 months)
​12-16 hours (including naps)
​Toddlers (1-2 years)
​11-14 hours (including naps)
​Pre-school age (3-5 years)
​10-13 hours (including naps)
​School-age (6-12 years) 9-12 hours
​9-12 hours
​Teenagers (13-18 years) 8-10 hours
​8-10 hours

What happens when children do not get enough sleep?
A child who is sleep deprived can become angry and hyperactive, with effects that mimic ADHD symptoms. Furthermore, drowsiness can affect a child's ability to pay attention; which would affect his performance at school. 

According to AAP, a quarter of children under the age of five don't get enough sleep, which is worrisome. Lack of sleep in early childhood has been associated with allergic rhinitis and immune system problems as well as anxiety and depression. There is also emerging evidence that poor sleep in childhood may carry future cardiovascular risks in the form of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Tips to help children relax before going to bed:
Doing the same comfortable routine in the same order and at the same time every night helps prepare for sleep and promotes good sleep in children:
  • Give your child a warm bath.
  • Keep the lights dimmed. This encourages the child's body to produce the sleep hormone (melatonin).
  • Once your child is in bed, encourage them to read quietly or read suggest reading a story together.
  • Figure out how much sleep a child needs according to their age group (as shown in the previous table).
  • Avoid the use of electronic devices at least an hour before bed. Electronic devices, smartphones and televisions can make it harder for a child to fall asleep.
  • Your child's bedroom should be dark, quiet, and ideal for a comfortable and relaxing sleep. The room temperature must be appropriate.
Tips for promoting good sleep in teens
  • Limit the use of electronic devices, smartphones, and TVs at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Remove all electronic devices from the bedroom.
  • Integrate physical activity into a daily routine for at least an hour a day to improve sleep and overall health.
  • Reduce caffeine intake found in many drinks (e.g. soft drinks, tea, and coffee), especially in the four hours prior to sleep. 
  • Avoid overeating before bed as this can cause discomfort during the night and may prevent sleep.
  • Avoid staying up late on weekends, and get the recommended hours of sleep.
When to see a doctor?
Your child may suffer from sleep disorders that require medical attention. If your child has one of the following problems, then it is time to see the doctor:
  • Snoring;
  • Sleeping during the day (e.g. sleeping at school even after a good night’s sleep);
  • Inability to sleep at night;
  • Frequent waking up at night;
  • Repeated sleepwalking or nightmares.

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Last Update : 29 November 2020 08:40 AM
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