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Childhood Sleep Requirements and Tips for improvement

Childhood Sleep Requirements and Tips for improvement

Childhood Sleep Requirements and Tips for improvement

Child sleeping at night

Getting the proper amount of sleep is vital for children from infancy through adolescence.  Too little or disrupted sleep can affect behavior, development, energy, concentration, and increase the chances of health problems like high blood pressure, obesity, chronic headaches, and depression.  


How much sleep does my child need?  

While the exact number varies for every person, a general guideline is: 

  • Infant 4-12 months need 14-16 hours per day including naps. 
  • Toddlers 1-2 years need 11-14 hours per day including naps.  
  • Preschool aged 3-5 years require 10-13 hours including naps. 
  • Grade school ages 6-12 require 9-12 hours per night.  
  • Teens require 8-10 hours per night. 


Tips to improve child and family sleep: 

  • Make it a priority by emphasizing the importance of sleep and setting a good example with your own sleep habits.   
  • Routine is key!  Make a nightly routine that starts at the same time, including weekends.  This will give bedtime a structure, while also giving you an opportunity to make it fun or something to look forward to. Brushing teeth, followed by a story, or reading time is a great way to enjoy bedtime for a child.  
  • Stay active during the day.  Set aside some time every day for active exercise/play including outside play.  
  • Limit and monitor screen time, especially before bed. The best policy is to keep all screens out of the child’s bedroom, which sets up the bed and bedroom as a relaxing and sleep only environment.  Stopping all screen at least 1 hour prior to bed can also help with sleep routines and make falling asleep easier.  
  • Work with your Teens.  Teenage years can be exceptionally difficult on sleep.  Teens require up to 10 hours of sleep per night, but often have numerous demands on them including early school starting times, after school activities/sports, homework, social and family obligations.  
  • Avoid overscheduling with teens especially, and make sure you are talking to them about sleep and making sure it is a priority.  
  • Watch for signs of poor sleep such as difficulty falling asleep, waking frequently, snoring, daytime sleepiness, sudden academic decline, falling asleep in school, avoiding going to sleep, or stalling at bedtime.  Fortunately, most sleep problems can be treated once identified.  See your pediatrician if any of these symptoms or concerns develop.