Martha Jefferson Monday: How Much Sleep do Children Need? - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Martha Jefferson Monday: How Much Sleep do Children Need?

It's not uncommon for parents of young children or teenagers to wonder if their kids are getting enough rest at night. Doctors say, as you might expect, the older they are, the less sleep they need.

"Sleep need over an entire lifetime changes and it typically is becoming less the entire time," said Dr. Chris Winter, a sleep specialist with Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine.

For young children, eight hours is the minimum you should shoot for each night. But don't worry if your child sleeps more than that. 10, 11 and even 12 hours is also considered healthy.

"To me, the biggest problem isn't that I've got parents saying 'my kids need more sleep, I'm not able to give it to them,'" said Dr. Winter. "It's actually the opposite. Parents often times think their kid needs 12 hours, but he's only getting eight, or he won't go to sleep when they put him to bed."

So, how do you know what's right for your child?

"The key for a parent is to really look to the child and create a situation where they have ample opportunity to sleep, but not try to force sleep," noted Dr. Winter.

"As long as he, or she, isn't exhibiting signs of sleepiness during the day - falling asleep at school, napping in the car on the way to swim practice, sleeping excessively on the weekends - there probably isn't going to be a big problem."

Finally, you might want to look at your own sleeping patterns to help guide what your little one might need.

"There are certain genetics that dictate how much sleep we need," said Dr. Winter. "There are short sleepers and long sleepers, so if mom and dad are kind of short sleepers, don't be surprised if junior is one too."

For more information on this topic, call Health Connection at (434) 654-7009. If you have a question you'd like us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com.

Do you have health questions? Starting June 4, get the answers every Monday morning from the experts at Martha Jefferson Hospital in our new feature: Martha Jefferson Monday.

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Submit your questions now! Just click this link and write your question in the email. Then tune in every Monday morning during NBC29 News at Sunrise for Martha Jefferson Monday brought to you by NBC29 and Martha Jefferson Hospital.

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