How much sleep do your kids get?

I know that each of my six children have different sleep requirements and different sleep habits. First they are different ages, so only my two youngest will take naps, and the four and a half year old is starting to give them up too! My ten year old could sleep late if we let her, my seven year old boy sweats like a pig, and my 22 month old son doesn’t sleep enough!

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You know your child needs less sleep now than he did when he was a baby, but how much less is still enough? Every child is different – some need more sleep and some less – but here are general guidelines for how many hours of sleep a child needs on average each day.

Age Nighttime sleep Daytime sleep Average total sleep
2 years 10 to 12 hours 1 to 3 hours (1 nap) 13 hours
3 years 9 to 12 hours 1 to 3 hours (1 nap) 12 to 13 hours
4 years 9 to 12 hours 0 to 2.5 hours (1 or no nap) 11 to 12 hours
5 years 8 to 11 hours 0 to 2.5 hours (1 or no nap) 10 to 11 hours
6 years 10 to 11 hours none 10 to 11 hours
7 years 10 to 11 hours none 10 to 11 hours
8 years 10 to 11 hours none 10 to 11 hours
*Note: The two sets of numbers don’t always add up because children who take longer naps tend to sleep fewer hours at night, and vice versa.

Keep in mind that most kids need a lot of sleep – usually more than parents allow for. Often, says sleep expert Jodi Mindell, author of Sleeping Through the Night, if a child has poor sleep habits or refuses to nap or go to bed before 10 at night, his parents will assume that he just doesn’t need much sleep. That’s probably not the case – in fact, it’s likely that such a child is actually sleep-deprived, resulting in hyper, overtired behavior at bedtime.

If you think your child may be sleep-deprived, ask yourself:

  • Does my child frequently fall asleep while riding in the car?
  • Do I have to wake him almost every morning?
  • Does he seem cranky, irritable, or overtired during the day?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child may be getting less sleep than his body needs. To change this pattern, you’ll need to help him develop good sleep habits, including setting an appropriate bedtime and sticking to it.

A preschooler or young grade-schooler who’s outgrown napping needs a solid 11 to 12 hours of sleep a night, an amount that will gradually decrease as he gets older. Even so, by the time he’s a teenager, your child will still need nine to ten hours of shut-eye.



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