How Much Sleep Do Children Really Need?

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation


A by-the-numbers guide

Just as with adults, children’s sleep needs vary somewhat from one individual to another, but some general guidelines do apply. As kids move from the baby phase to the toddler stage, and then to the elementary school and early middle school years, their sleep needs decline a bit. Yet, they still need a lot of shut-eye for their growing brains and bodies.

Sleep Training Tips for Children

After all, growth hormone, which is essential for tissue growth and muscle development, is released during sleep. Repair to various organs, tissues, and muscles occurs during snooze time. And slumber is important for learning new information and solidifying long-term memories.

While there’s no exact number of hours that every child should get, it’s smart to keep these age-by-age ranges in mind:

  • Between ages one and two:

    Toddlers typically need 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day. Most of this occurs at night, but most kids of this age do still need a nap that ranges from one to three-and-a-half hours long.

  • Between ages three and five:

    Preschool-age children usually need 10 to 13 hours of slumber per day. At age three, many kids are still napping, at age four, some are still napping, but most give up the habit by age five.

  • Between ages six and 13:

    During the elementary and early middle school years, kids typically require nine to 11 hours of sleep per day (and all of it at night).

To help your child get the sleep that he or she needs, develop a calming bedtime ritual that might include taking a bath, putting on PJs, brushing teeth, and reading a story. It’s also wise to stick with a consistent bedtime. This will help set the stage for a good night’s sleep, night after night.

It's important to note that teens generally need more shut-eye, compared with their younger siblings. If you have a kid who is in high school, make sure that he or she is on a healthy sleep schedule.