How Much Sleep Do Kids Need, Doc?

Relax Baby Sleep

You probably learned how to get some good shut-eye and how much sleep habits can make a difference in getting to where you need to be after reading our blog, Sleep Right, Sleep Tight: 3 Tips for Good Rest. As adults, we can appreciate the focus, energy, and productivity that comes with a good night’s rest. And we also can tell when a lack of sleep is the reason we are having an off day. But for our youthful bedtime rebels who scurry off to school after late night shenanigans or TV-watching, they probably have no idea that their C- on their last math test- not to mention their quick temper- could be the result of sleep deprivation. Knowing that sleep supports mood, learning, growth, heart health, general wellness, and attention span, how much sleep do kids need to reap the benefits?

Newborns: Newborns typically sleep 15-18 hours a day for 2-4 hours at a time. The fact that they sleep this much is great for getting chores done during the day. But because their circadian rhythm isn’t yet established, you will likely be sleep deprived tending to a bright-eyed baby around the clock. This phase is only temporary, so let your newborn follow his or her natural tendency for sleep. By 6 weeks, babies will start settling into a more normal pattern of sleep.

Infants (6-16 weeks): At this stage, babies will start settling into 4-6 hours of evening sleep (well, generally, for the lucky parents) with about 14-15 hours sleep for the entire day.

4-12 months old: 15 hours of sleep is ideal, but some babies sleep only 12 hours a day at this phase. The good news is that they should be able to sleep throughout the evening with 2-3 regular naps throughout the day.

1 to 3 year old toddlers need about 14 hours of sleep and require at least one nap a day. It’s quite normal for a toddler to put up a fight about going to bed. They don’t want to miss out on the action, as we learn from Psychology Today’s article regarding toddler sleep habits.

3 to 6 year old’s need about 10-12 hours of sleep per day. It is generally ok for 3 and 4 year old’s to still nap as long as it is early enough in the day (before 2pm) that it does not impact their evening sleep. Make sure you are encouraging good eating habits as well. According to WebMD, there is a strong correlation between sleep and health. Good sleep supports good health while good health supports good sleep.

7 to 12 year old’s need about 10 to 11 hours a day although the average is 9 hours per day for this age group in the US. Every child is different, so you can determine how much sleep they need by monitoring your child’s behavior and performance in school.

13 to 18 year old’s: As adolescence approaches, you may see a shift in sleep habits with your teen going to bed later and later. This is normal as he/she is experiencing a shift in their body clock. So how much sleep does a teenager need, taking into account this biological change? They still need about 8-9 hours of quality sleep to function optimally.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

As for you, you’ll need a lot of energy to function throughout the day, especially if you are a kid-totin’, errand-runnin’, taxi-driving parent. This means getting in about 7.5 to 8 hours a day to keep up at a superhero’s pace.

→ Want to read more topics on protecting your child’s health? Check out our blog on childhood obesity and concussions.