How Much Sleep Does My Child Really Need?

Sleep is a vital need, essential to a child’s health and growth. Quality sleep promotes alertness, memory and performance. Children who get enough sleep are more likely to function better and are less prone to behavioral problems and moodiness. That is why it is important for parents to start early and help their children develop good sleep habits. Below are some general guidelines for how many hours of sleep the average child requires at various ages. Remember, every child is different – some need more or less sleep than others – but variations are minimal.

As you can see in the attached chart, most children need about 11 hours of sleep for the majority of their first ten years. Ideally, parents will come to learn their child’s sleepy cues (more on these in a later post) and put them to bed when their child’s body is ready. Otherwise, parents can count 11 hours backwards from the child/household’s wake-up time and aim to have their child asleep by then (i.e. not just starting the bedtime routine). For example, if everyone in the house is up by 6:30am to get to school and work, the child should be asleep around 7:30pm.

Click here to download a chart of sleep averages.