Sleep Care Plan- General

By K Health
Medically reviewed
June 17, 2019

Patient Instructions/Care Plan Information

If you have any other questions about common sleep issues or how to address them, please let me know. Attached is a detailed care plan that includes more information about common sleep problems as well as some suggestions on how to address them. Good luck and thanks for choosing K for Parents!


How much sleep does my child need?

The amount of sleep a child needs in a 24-hour period (including naps) is as follows

  • Infants (4-12 months) – 12-16 hours
  • Toddler (1-2 years) – 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers- (3-5 years) – 10-13 hours
  • Gradeschoolers (6-12yo) – 9-12 hours
  • Teens (13-18 years) – 8-10 hours

What happens if my child doesn’t get enough sleep?

Some kids are fussy and irritable when they don’t sleep enough while others remain remarkably cheerful. But regardless of your child’s disposition, getting enough sleep optimizes their physical, emotional and cognitive development. Children that don’t sleep enough experience diminished coordination and alertness during the day. They may also have more emotional ups and downs. 

A rested child on the other hand wakes up ready to absorb the stimulation of the day and generate creative problem-solving. They’ll have more energy to handle the daily interactions and experiences which are critical to their growth. As an added perk, when your child gets enough sleep then your sleep quality is improved and you feel better!

What are good bedtime habits?

Send a message that sleep is important:

  • Make sleep a priority for the whole family
  • Model for your child what good sleep habits look like

Good sleep at night starts with good habits during the daytime: 

  • If your child naps, limit the duration of naps
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of physical activity- 60 minutes over the course of the day of ANY kind of activity.
  • Expose your child to the sun as soon as they get up and throughout the day to set their biological clocks.
  • Play with your child in their room so that they’re comfortable in it. Create a positive association.
  • Set expectations for bedtime. Explain to your child what bedtime looks like and what it does not look like.
  • Kids thrive with routines. Consistent routines during the day lead to good routines at night.
  • Don’t overbook your child with activities, especially if they overlap with wind-down and sleep time.
  • Remember, scary shows, movies or books that they see or read during the daytime will creep into their imaginations at night. Try to minimize your child’s exposure to these things.

Wind down and create the right sleep environment:

  • Do not allow devices or screens in the bedroom and discontinue screen time at least 1 hour before bedtime. Blue light from screens can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle by disrupting the production of your child’s sleep hormone, melatonin.
  • Use that last hour before bedtime to do a quiet activity like a puzzle or read a book. Avoid physical games that might rile your child up.
  • Keep your child’s room cool so that they don’t overheat after falling asleep.
  • Use a night light or keep your child’s door open slightly to let some light in.
  • Consider a sound machine or other soothing sounds.

Create a nightly bedtime routine:

  • Use the 4 Bs of bedtime routine: bath, brush, book, bed. Children who have difficulty falling or staying asleep do better when they have a routine that lets them know what to expect. Whatever your chosen routine, do it in the same order every night without any variation. This means no extra hugs or sips of water after the routine has ended.
  • Give your child a comfort object (if they don’t already have one) – preferably something that smells like you or represents you, like a ‘mommy bear’ (to give them the sense that their parent is with them at night).

Can melatonin be used as a sleep-aid?

Consult with a clinician beforehand, and do not use it for more than 1-2 weeks as its long term effects are not well understood.

Melatonin is a hormone that your body releases naturally at night readying your body for sleep. Melatonin is a non-prescription (OTC) medication and can be used for short periods (1-2 weeks) as a sleep- aid: 

  • Comes as pills, liquids, chewables
  • Given 30 minutes before bedtime
  • Common side effects: increased nighttime urination, morning grogginess

Dosage 

  • Starting dose: 0.5-1mg 
  • Older children: 2.5-3mg
  • Adolescents: up to 5mg
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.