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How Much Sleep Your Children Need

April 14, 2017
Published in: Children, Sleep

Baby sleeping in his father's arms

Sleep is important not only for your children's mood and productivity, but also their development. As your children grow older, the amount of sleep they need will change each day. Understanding these needs will allow you to set a routine to ensure they're getting enough sleep. By setting a schedule that provides sufficient sleep for your little ones, you're giving them the best possible opportunity to mature into healthy, young adults.

Newborns

1 week - 4 weeks old

The total sleep duration for an average newborn ranges from 15 to 18 hours each day. Sleep at this age is characterized by short sleep periods, with each period typically lasting anywhere from 2-4 hours. The sleep duration for premature babies is usually longer than normal babies.

During the first four weeks of life, the circadian (day/night) rhythm is not yet developed because the internal biological clock has not yet matured. Therefore, newborns have no sleep patterns and they can sleep at any time of the day or night.

5 weeks – 16 weeks oldToward the end of infancy your baby will begin to establish more regular sleep patterns.

The total sleep duration for a baby aged 1 month to 4 months old is about 15 hours. By the sixth week of life, your baby will have started to develop regular sleep patterns, and you may notice that the longest naps usually occur in the evenings. This shows that the internal biological clock of your baby is developing, and it can differentiate between day cycles and night cycles. The longest sleep periods generally last 4-6 hours.

5 months – 12 months old

The ideal total sleep duration is 15 hours. However, most infants 11 months old tend to have total sleep duration of 12 hours. They also tend to have an average of three naps per day and by 6 months, they can sleep for long periods at night. The mid-morning and early-afternoon naps typically average two hours, while the late-afternoon nap averages three hours.

The biological rhythms are more established towards the end of infancy. During this period of late infancy, it is important for your baby to establish, or develop, healthy sleeping habits. This is because your baby is now socially active, and is starting to learn and develop social skills.

1 year - 3 years oldAround age 18-24 months, your toddler will no longer require a daytime nap, instead only need an afternoon nap.

This marks the early childhood period, and at this point your child needs 13 hours of sleep. However, most toddlers generally sleep for a total of 10 hours. During this period, your child only takes a single nap during the day. Around 18-21 months old your toddler will no longer need a daytime nap. However, their afternoon nap may increase to as long as 3-4 hours. At night, toddlers typically require 11 hours of sleep beginning at 8pm to 9pm.

3 years - 6 years old

During this age range your child should be getting anywhere from 10-12 hours of sleep per night beginning around 8pm - 9pm. By the age of four, your child could still have afternoon naps, but the naps should be shorter in duration, generally an hour or less. Typically, most children will stop taking mid-day naps all together by the time they reach the age of five.. At this time, regular sleep patterns are firmly established, and sleep disturbances can be recognized.

7 years – 12 yearsSchool life, social interactions, and family activities will influence your child's sleep patterns during adolescence.

School life, social interactions, and family activities influence the sleep patterns of your child at this stage of life. They need around 10 hours of sleep per evening, all in one single stretch. Your child's bedtime will likely push back by an hour or so to between 9pm and 10pm. The more your child studies, the more likely their bedtime will be later at night.

13 years – 18 years

As a teenager, sleep patterns should approach that of a typical adult to around eight hours per night. During adolescence, sleep remains vital to normal growth and development. Insufficient sleep is associated with a myriad of health problems so keeping to a healthy sleep schedule is extremely important.

Something else to keep in mind is that it's not only the quantity of sleep but also the quality of sleep that matters. Low-quality sleep is non-restorative in nature meaning your child may wake up still feeling fatigued. Social pressures may also negatively affect the quality and duration of their sleep.

If you'd like to learn more about the importance of healthy sleep patterns and how to establish a routine, any of the Augusta Health Family Care physician locations will be happy to help. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help you raise happy, healthy kids.