Sleep is an integral part of staying healthy for everyone. With kids, it is even more important for their growing bodies to get plenty of rest so they can develop properly. But it can be an uphill battle getting them to bed on time. So, how much sleep do kids really need?
The amount of sleep your child needs is based on their age. They need the most sleep in the first months of life and the requirement gradually decreases until they get down to about 9 hours minimum as teenagers. The National Sleep Foundation explains some age-based guidelines for how much sleep children should get.
Newborns (0-3 months)
A newborn will sleep about 10-18 hours a day. Their sleep cycle will be influenced by when they need to be fed. This makes the schedule irregular at the beginning. Usually, newborns are only awake for one to three hours at a time. They could sleep for several hours or only a few minutes.
To help with your newborn’s sleep, you should become familiar with behaviors that indicate when they are tired and lay them down when they are sleepy but not yet asleep.
Infants (4-11 months)
Infants usually need 9-12 hours of sleep each night with naps during the day. Infants begin to develop a more consistent schedule as they get older. They often nap one to four times each day and the naps can be as long as two hours or as short as 30 minutes.
At six months, feeding during the night may longer be necessary so they’ll often start to sleep longer. This is the period when children can learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. Self-soothing is also good if they wake up during the night. They may be able to put themselves back to sleep without your help.
Infants should also have a consistent bedtime routine and sleep environment since their schedule is more regular.
Toddlers (1-2 years)
One and two-year-old children need 11-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. As toddlers get older their naps will decrease in frequency. At about 18 months they will go down to one nap a day, lasting between one and three hours. It can be difficult or nearly impossible to really schedule a toddler’s nap, but it’s important to try and form a routine where naps do not occur close to bedtime. Napping too late in the day can interfere with a toddler’s nighttime sleep.
Sleep challenges children in this age group may include nighttime awakenings and nightmares. To promote healthy sleep patterns, stick to a schedule as best you can. Adhere to the same routine each night and keep their sleep environment consistent to help encourage healthy sleep habits.
Preschoolers (3-5 years)
Children 3 to 5 years old need 11-13 hours of sleep each night. After five years old, most children will no longer nap. If your child goes to preschool during the day, they may have an enforced naptime that sometimes becomes “quiet time” as children resist actually napping.
Like with toddlers, waking up during the night and nightmares are not uncommon for preschool-aged children. They also may have trouble falling asleep at bedtime. To help with this, a relaxing routine each night can help your child wind down. This routine should end in the room the child sleeps. It’s also important to remember that where the child sleeps should remain consistent. This is true of all children. The room should be quiet, dark, cool and free of distractions such as digital devices.
School-Aged Children (6-13 years)
Children ages 6-13 years old need 9-11 hours of sleep each night. This is the age where external influences can begin having an effect on sleep patterns. At this age, there are more demands on the child’s time. Children in this age group spend significant time at school, as well as on homework and studying. They also have blossoming social lives and often more access to TV, computers, and other distractions that can lead them to put bedtime off.
To help your child get as much sleep as they need, remove the distractions from the room. Even though they are older, you still need to enforce a schedule and a regular bedtime. Let them know why sleep is important to their health and wellbeing to encourage continued healthy habits as they continue to gain more independence.
Teenagers should also get 9-11 hours of sleep each night. They face many of the same distractions as school-aged children, plus they have greater independence and access to things like caffeine which can disrupt sleep. Emphasizing the importance of a consistent sleep routine and emphasizing the benefits of sleep over staying up late may seem like a losing battle. But, it’s always important to remind them and pay attention if they are not getting adequate rest on a regular basis.
If your child is experiencing trouble sleeping that seems out of the norm and is interfering with their daily life, you should consult your pediatrician. HealthPark Pediatrics is dedicated to helping your child achieve total wellness, which includes supporting parents as they establish healthy sleep habits for their family. Call 919-896-7066 or request an appointment online.