So how much sleep should your child be getting? Here are the recommended guidelines and some general rules about normal and healthy sleep routines for kids.
Sleep Requirements for Children: How Much Sleep do Children Need?
- Newborns (0-2 months): Anywhere from 12 to 18 hours of sleep per day
- Infants (3-11 months): 14 to 15 hours of sleep per day
- Toddlers (1-3 years): 12 to 14 hours of sleep per day
- Preschoolers (3-5 years): 11 to 13 hours of sleep per day
- School-age children (5-10 years): 10 to 11 hours of sleep per day
- Adolescents/teens (10-17 years): 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep per day
- Adults (18 & over): 7 to 9 hours
(Recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation)
Normal sleep habits for children
Healthy sleep habits in children are evidenced by the following:
- A child can typically fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes of being laid down.
- They wake up easily at their normal wake-up time.
- Children are awake and alert during the day, and school-age children do not need a nap. You can check with your child’s teacher about alertness.
How to tell if a child is getting enough sleep
The best indicator of whether or not a child is getting enough sleep at night is to see if they wake up refreshed each morning. Here are some other signs that a child may not be getting enough sleep:
- They fall asleep in the car almost every time you drive them.
- You have trouble waking them up in the morning.
- A child seems tired, cranky, irritable, or overly emotional during the day.
- Children tend to “crash” on some nights much earlier than their normal bedtime.
Sleep requirements can vary from child to child
It’s important for parents to realize that these standards are not written in stone. When it comes to sleep guidelines for kids, most recommendations “are guesses, generally based on loose observations and opinions,” says Lisa Ann Matricciani, co-author of a child sleep study published in the February 2012 Pediatrics. (Healy, 2012) From 1987 to 2009, children’s daily sleep decreased by about 75 minutes while the recommendation for how much sleep kids should get also declined by 70 minutes. “Experts have always recommended that children get about 40 minutes more sleep than they do, no matter how much sleep they get,” says researcher Timothy Olds, a professor of health sciences.
In addition, there will be some variation in what’s proper from one child to another. So don’t panic if your child seems to be on the low end of the sleep spectrum but otherwise appears healthy and well-rested. Worry about them getting the sleep their body is signaling for, not any particular number.