How long should your child sleep?  


Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for a child’s mental and physical health and development. It is just as important as healthy eating and exercise. Overall, a child will spend 40% of his or her childhood asleep.

Having insufficient sleep is linked with problems with attention, behaviour and learning. It is also associated with irritability and tantrums, risk of obesity, diabetes, accidents and childhood depression.

Circadian rhythm

Sleep is the primary activity of the brain during early development. For newborns, sleep occurs around the clock and the sleep-wake cycle interacts with the need to be fed, changed and nurtured. This cycle, called the circadian rhythm, is regulated by light and dark and begins to stabilize between three to six months.

By the age of two, most children have spent more time asleep than awake. But many toddlers and pre-schoolers experience sleep problems including resisting going to bed and night-time awakenings ad nightmares. The recommendations given below by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine are based on a review of scientific evidence on sleep duration and health.

Child’s age and sleep requirement

4-12 months: 12-16 hours

1-2 years: 11-14 hours

3-5 years: 10-13 hours

6-12 years: 9-12 hours

13-18 years: 8-10 hours

 Tips to improve sleep
  • Newborns can be encouraged to sleep less during the day by exposing them to light and noise, and by playing with them
  • Don’t let your toddler nap too close to bedtime
  • Develop regular daytime and bedtime schedules. Set limits that are consistent, communicated and enforced
  • Create a relaxing and enjoyable bedtime routine
  • Establish a regular “sleep friendly” environment – a room that is cool, dark and quiet
  • Encourage your child to fall asleep independently
  • Encourage use of a security object such as a blanket or stuffed animal
  • Teach school-aged children about healthy sleep habits
  • Keep TV and computers out of the bedroom
  • Ensure your child avoids caffeine
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