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Parenting Tips #4: How much sleep does your child need?

March 15, 2018 -- The next in a continuing series of tip sheets for parents, provided by Grades 4-6 math teacher Judith Walsh at Driver Middle School:

How much sleep does your child need?

photo of a child sleeping on a pile of school books
often wonder if my children are getting enough sleep, especially now that they are getting older and going to sleep on their own.

One of the reasons it's so hard to know if our children are getting enough sleep is that drowsy children don't necessarily slow down the way we do—they wind up. In fact, sleepiness can look like symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)  (National Sleep Foundation, 2108). Sometimes children often act as if they're not tired, resisting bedtime and becoming hyper as the evening goes on because they are overtired.

According to the National Sleep Foundation (2018), if you suspect your child isn't sleeping enough, it's important to talk to your pediatrician. If there is an underlying sleep disorder or another medical condition at play, your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist to discuss various treatments options. In many cases, though, sleep deprivation in children can be helped with changes to the environment and habits surrounding bedtime. Research shows that an early bedtime (between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. works best for babies and kids through school age) and a consistent, soothing, wind-down routine with no screen time—such as TVs, tablets and the like—will lead to better sleep.

While every child is slightly different in terms of how much sleep they need, attached is a grid of recommended number of hours children need at different ages:

How much sleep do babies and kids need?

Age Recommended May be appropriate
Toddlers 1-2 years 11-14 hours 9-10 hours, 15-16 hours
Preschoolers 3-5 years 10-13 hours 8-9 hours 14 hours
School-age children, 6-13 years 9-11 hours 7-8 hours, 12 hours
Teenagers, 14-17 years 8-10 hours 7 hours, 11 hours

Adapted from “How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need? (2018). National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved from:

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