Sleep and Children


From babies that seem to sleep almost all day to toddlers that refuse to go to bed, children and sleep are a mystery to many parents and caregivers. Knowing good sleep habits for children can reduce the chances of those children having sleep problems later in life.

So, how much sleep do children need? The answer varies depending on the age of the child.

* If your child is 4-12 months old, he or she needs around 14-15 hours of sleep per day.

* If your child is 1-3 years old, he or she needs around 12-14 hours of sleep per day.

* If your child is 3-6 years old, he or she needs around 10-12 hours of sleep per day.

* If your child is 7-12 years old, he or she needs around 10-11 hours of sleep per day.

* If your child is 13-18 years old, he or she needs around 8-9 hours of sleep per day.

These hours don’t have to happen in a row, just within a 24 hour period. Also, keep track of how much your child sleeps, as consistency in sleep is just as important as number of hours. If you have a child that sleeps only four hours three days out of the week and then sleeps 14 hours four days out of the week, there could be a sleep disorder caused by the lack of sleep consistency.

Having sleep requirements for children is not being over-dramatic or heavy-handed. It is ensuring that your child is getting the sleep necessary for proper growth and mental health. Sleep problems in children can be brought on or aggravated by conditions such as ADHD. A study from 2006 shows that children with ADHD do experience more trouble sleeping than their non- ADHD counterparts. While more testing is necessary to understand this phenomenon better, children and sleep disorders have a complex relationship that needs to be watched carefully to make sure unintended sleep deprivation in children is not being caused.

If you notice sleep problems in young children, take action by finding ways to increase the number of hours a child sleeps at night to increasing the number of naps during the day. Here are some tips to get your children sleeping more:

If you’re worried because your child won’t stay in bed, sit on the edge of the bed and read a book until your child falls asleep.

Increasing naps can be helpful, and again, if your child won’t stay in bed you can bring your laptop or a book into the bedroom and work or read until your child falls asleep.

If your child is in a daycare during the day, have the caregiver track how long your child sleeps during naptime so you can adjust the bedtime if necessary.

Does your child like milk? Warm milk can be soothing due to the chemical that is released during the warming process. If your child does not like milk or is lactose intolerant, warm apple cider might work (try to make sure it’s sugar-free so you don’t have the issue of a sugar-filled child trying to go to sleep.)

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