How much sleep do children need?

SINGAPORE - If you are wondering how much sleep a child needs, get set to rub your eyes - in amazement.

Those aged 12 and above need at least nine hours every day, says sleep specialist Daniel Goh of the National University Hospital. Younger ones need 10 to 11 hours.

Getting sufficient sleep is vital for cognitive development, physical growth and a healthy immune system, he says.

Lack of sleep can predispose a child to diabetes and hypertension, reduce concentration and the ability to focus, and increase risk-taking behaviour.

"It could also reduce a child's ability to control impulses - like yelling at a teacher," says Professor Goh.

Tips to help children sleep

- Establish a regular bedtime and wake-up time

- Ensure that the bedroom temperature is comfortable

- The bedroom must be dark and quiet

- Avoid large meals and caffeinated drinks before bedtime

- Turn off the television set and video games at least one hour before bedtime

Tips for healthy online activities

- Do not allow video or computer games to become a child's main source of entertainment

- Monitor your child's computer use

- Encourage children to develop other interests and passions, such as sports, music and photography

- Limit computer time, to teach self-control and responsibility

Sources: KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Touch Cyber Wellness

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