Sleep is a vital component of our health as adults, and it is even more important for our kids— as sleep is essential for healthy development. Knowing how much sleep a kid needs is important for parents as they work to keep their children happy and healthy.
In order to know how much sleep a kid needs, we must understand what is happening at different stages of childhood development. In this article, we will discuss the sleep needs of kids at each stage and help parents determine if their child is getting enough rest.
Sleep Needs by Age
Professionals at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine are consistently reviewing sleep guidelines for kids and adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics has backed its latest recommendations which were released in 2016. They are as follows.
- Infants, 4-12 months: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
- Children, 1-2 years: 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
- Children, 3-5 years: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
- Children, 6-12 years: 9 to 12 hours
- Teenagers, 13-18 years: 8 to 10 hours
It’s important to remember these are merely general guidelines. Every child is different; if you’re concerned your little one isn’t getting the sleep they need, we recommend talking with their pediatrician.
Newborns and Babies
Newborns and babies are known for sleeping, and most newborns spend the first two to three months of their lives sleeping and eating. This behavior is completely normal and essential to proper physical development.
Newborns need 14-17 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, but some may sleep as much as 18 to 20 hours. During this time, a newborn’s body is changing and growing, so they require quite a bit of shut-eye. Most importantly, brain development is rapid. At birth, a baby’s brain is only 30% developed. During the first three years of life, the brain experiences expeditious growth— with 50% of that growth happening during REM sleep.
Kids 3 to 6 Years of Age
At the age of 3, children enter into a new stage of growth, and with that, sleep habits change. Parents will notice their child staying awake longer and sleeping less. At this point, it becomes important to develop good sleep hygiene.
Children age 3 to 6 require 10 to 13 hours of sleep every night, not including naps during the day. Naps are recommended for children up to the age of five, but after your little one turns five, it’s best to phase naps out and restrict sleep to the nighttime hours. However, if your child is particularly fussy or cranky, a nap here and there doesn’t hurt.
Adolescents and Teens
Between ages 6 to 13, a kid will still need 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day. Of course, all kids are different. Some may only sleep nine hours while others are pushing 13 hours.
Once your child has reached adolescence, outside factors can hinder their sleeping patterns. As puberty sets in, normal bodily changes can impact the quality and quantity of sleep your child receives. Plus, extracurricular activities can make time management difficult, leaving kids to stay up later than they should to finish schoolwork.
How to Determine if Your Kid is Getting Adequate Sleep
To determine if your child is getting enough sleep, ask yourself these questions:
- Does my child need to be woken up 3 to 4 times after the alarm?
- Does my kid complain of feeling tired?
- Does my kid want to sleep extra on weekends?
- Is my child taking frequent naps?
- Is he/she experiencing mood swings?
- Has there been a drop in school performance?
If you’re answering yes to most of these questions, we recommend talking with your child about their sleeping habits and taking steps to improve sleep hygiene. Of course, we also suggest investing in the best mattress for your child’s needs, too, as a lumpy or uncomfortable bed can hinder your quality of sleep.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much sleep does a 10-year-old need?
Doctors recommend 10-year-olds receive nine to ten hours of sleep each night. If your child is getting less than nine hours of sleep, they are unable to perform at their best. School performance could suffer and they become unable to focus on given tasks. They can become irritable which creates behavior management problems at home and in the classroom.
Are two-hour naps bad?
For children under five, naps are beneficial. Babies and toddlers need naps for healthy development. Most pediatricians will say that naps should be played out— if they are napping two or more hours, that’s okay. However, be careful daytime napping does not hinder a normal bedtime routine.
For adolescents and teens, a two-hour nap could be a sign of poor sleep quality and quantity. If this is the case, you may want to take steps to improve sleep hygiene.
Does lack of sleep affect a child’s behavior?
Parents and professionals can all agree that lack of sleep causes changes in a child’s behavior. A study published in Pediatrics states that children who don’t get enough sleep are prone to crankiness and tantrums. They go on to say that lack of sleep causes a delay in brain maturation. This delay makes it difficult for children to control certain behaviors.
The Associate Director of the Sleep Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Jodi Mindell, states, “In fact, not getting enough sleep really affects every aspect of a child’s well-being and functioning.”
So, How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?
At each stage of child development, your kid will need a certain amount of sleep. Newborns and babies will need the most sleep requiring 12 to 16 hours including naps. Toddlers and children up to age 5 will need between 11-13 hours of sleep. Adolescents and teens need less sleep but still require at least 8 hours.
Parents should remember that these numbers are recommendations. You know your child better than anyone else. If their behavior has changed, or they seem tired more than usual, it is time to take a close look at their sleep schedules.