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How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?

Updated on September 10, 2012
How much sleep does an infant need?
How much sleep does an infant need?

What Happens When A Child Does Not Sleep Enough

“Sleep is a vital asset for a child’s health and overall development, learning and safety,” says Richard L. Gelula, National Sleep Foundation’s chief executive officer. “Many children are not sleeping enough and many experience sleep problems. What is troublesome is that the problems start in infancy.”

Sleep is crucial to the overall success of any child. A child must receive the optimal amount of sleep in order for his/her body to thrive. The National Sleep Association states that without the proper amount of sleep, children can develop the following conditions:

  • Emotional instability- Lack of sleep can raise the levels of certain hormones associated with depression and anxiety. This can make children prone to the feelings of sadness, anger, fatigue and anxiety.
  • Lack of concentration- Sleep deprivation leads to the inability to concentrate and focus. It becomes hard to process new information and retrieve vital information previously learned.
  • Weight issues- Studies of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found children who do not sleep enough have a 92% chance of developing childhood obesity. Researchers stated that every 1 extra hour of sleep obtained by a child can reduce the risk of obesity by 9%. Obese and overweight children have a fatty tissue layer around the neck, which restricts the flow of air leading to sleep apnea and other sleep problems.
  • Risk of developing diabetes- Even two hours reduction in sleep or acute sleep loss is associated with inflammation of cytokines, a condition known to cause insulin resistance that develops diabetes.
  • ADHD- A research study made at the University of Michigan revealed that sleep disorders like snoring, sleep apnea and others cause attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • Difficulty at school- Lack of sufficient sleep can cause difficulty at school. The National Sleep Association found that if a child misses 2 to 3 hours of sleep every night for a week, he/she significantly faces performance and mood problems.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Sleep Needs
Newborns (0-2 months)
12-18 hours
Infants (3-11 months)
14-15 hours
Toddlers (1-3 years)
12-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years)
11-13 hours
School-age children (5-10 years)
10-11 hours
Teens (10-17 years)
8.5-9.25 hours
7-9 hours
Source: National Sleep Foundation

According to the National Sleep Foundation, does your child sleep enough?

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Is my child getting enough sleep?
Is my child getting enough sleep?

What Are The Signs That A Child Is Not Getting Enough Sleep

It is extremely difficult to know if your children are getting enough sleep unless you stand inside their bedrooms and observe your children the entire night. However, there are certain signs to look for that indicate a lack of sleep. Here are a few signs to look for:

  • Your child has a difficult time waking up in the morning.
  • Often falls asleep during car rides.
  • Appears overly emotional.
  • Has difficulty concentrating in school or other events.
  • Appears hyperactive.

What You Can Do

The world is moving at a rapid pace. There is always something that needs to be done, something that cannot wait. Soccer practice, play-dates, dance class- it feels like there is no extra time during the day. The secret is to make time. I know, I is easier said than done, but as parents/caregivers we need to attempt to model the importance of sleep and how this vital part of the day leads to a person's overall health. Our children's happiness depends on good sleeping habits. Even adults, with less than 8 hours of sleep, feels the effects of sleep deprivation. No amount of coffee can completely curb that slightly irritable mood waiting below the surface. It's there, even on your best 3-hours-of-sleep days.

As a family you can model together certain routines that will regulate better sleep patterns. The National Sleep Association recommends the following:

  • Maintain consistent sleep schedules, even during busy weekends. Establish a bedtime routine such as brushing teeth, washing face, putting on pajamas, reading a book and then turning off the lights. Encouraging a child to fall asleep independently will help the child become a "self-soother." This important skill will help children be able to fall asleep without assistance when they wake up during the night.
  • Maintain appropriate bedtimes and wake times.
  • Restrict the amount of time a child is on the computer or sitting in front of the television.
  • Eliminate caffeine from child's diet.
  • Discuss your child's sleep routine with your child's doctor, even if you have no concerns. Your doctor may recommend a different sleep schedule (

Sleep Support

The National Sleep Foundation website ( offers excellent tools to achieve the best sleep patterns. The website provides a diary you can download to help track your child's sleep and the effects of their unique sleep routines. These forms can also be brought to your child's pediatrician to ensure quality of care.

Why Kids Need Their Sleep

“Parents lay the groundwork for healthful living and sleep is a significant factor in healthful living.”-Arlene Smaldone, RN, DNSc, CPNP, CDE, assistant professor, Columbia University School of Nursing


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    • TeachableMoments profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Girishpuri, thank you for taking the time to read my hub and for voting up. I appreciate your comment and I hope new parents will find this hub useful.

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 

      6 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      Great topic, very well presented and extremely useful for new parents, voted up.

    • TeachableMoments profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Teaches, thank you. Many children struggle with sleepless nights and it really does impact a family's entire life. Healthy sleep routines are often ignored or parents find it hard to implement. Hopefully this hub helps. Thanks again for taking the time to read my hubs.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      What a great hub topic and you covered it so well. It is surprising how many children do have this problem. I have talked to parents over the years that ask me how to deal with their child's sleepless nights. Your advice is right on and will help many who need some answers and help. Voted way up!

    • TeachableMoments profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Meg Moon, thanks for taking the time to read my hub. Regulating three different bedtimes can be challenging. The key to success is consistency and a short bedtime routine for all. It does get easier as a child's brain naturally develops with age, but setting good bedtime routines is a must. Your children are lucky to have such a loving mother who monitors their sleeping habits.

    • TeachableMoments profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Christine- Thanks for reading my hub. Yes, I agree, knowing how to adjust your child's bedtime is so important. Parents are not always aware of how much sleep their children need depending on their age. Sleep is so important at any age.

    • Meg Moon profile image

      Meg Moon 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      My 4 month old can only stay awake for 1 hour and a half during the day and he is waking on average about once in the night. My 20 month old sleeps 2-3 hours in his lunchtime nap then 12 hours at night but my 3 year old won't nap and sits up talking for around 2 hours after she goes to bed- I do worry she needs more sleep - I'm hoping when she starts pre-school at the end of this month she may sleep better. Great hub!

    • Christine Miranda profile image

      Christine Miranda 

      6 years ago from My office.

      This is good to know especially as kids get older and you have to adjust bedtime accordingly. Voted up.


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