How much sleep do children need?

Parents are often unsure if their child is getting enough sleep. In addressing this, we look at several things:

 Where does the child compare to the normal range for his or her age?

A recent study (Pediatrics, 1111:2, Feb 2003, pp. 302-307) performed by Swiss researchers showed that 96% of children at a given age fell in the following ranges of total sleep hours (nighttime and daytime naps combined):

 ●     1 month old: 9 to 19 hours a day (average, 14.4 hours)

●     3 months old: 10.3 to 18.8 hours a day (average, 14.6 hours)

●     6 months old: 10.4 to 18.1 hours a day (average, 14.2 hours)

●     9 months old: 10.5 to 17.4 hours a day (average, 13.9 hours)

●     1 year old: 11.4 to 16.5 hours a day (average, 13.9 hours)

●     2 years old: 10.8 to 15.6 hours a day (average, 13.2 hours)

●     3 years old: 10.3 to 14.8 hours a day (average, 12.5 hours)

●     4 years old: 9.7 to 14 hours a day (average, 11.8 hours)

●     5 years old: 9.5 to 13.3 hours a day (average, 11.4 hours)

●     6 years old: 9.3 to 12.6 hours a day (average, 11 hours)

●     7 years old: 9.2 to 12.1 hours a day (average, 10.6 hours)

●     8 years old: 9 to 11.7 hours a day (average, 10.4 hours)

●     9 years old: 8.8 to 11.4 hours a day (average, 10.1 hours)

●     10 years old: 8.6 to 11.1 hours a day (average, 9.9 hours)

●     11 years old: 8.3 to 10.9 hours a day (average, 9.6 hours)

●     12 years old: 8 to 10.7 hours a day (average, 9.3 hours)

●     13 years old: 7.7 to 10.4 hours a day (average, 9 hours)

●     14 years old: 7.3 to 10.1 hours a day (average, 8.7 hours)

●     15 years old: 7 to 9.9 hours a day (average, 8.4 hours)

●     16 years old: 6.6 to 9.6 hours a day (average, 8.1 hours)

 These guidelines may be helpful, but remember 2% of healthy, normal children sleep more than this and 2% of healthy, normal children sleep less than this. Children with different levels of physical activity, stress levels, illnesses, etc. will also show a lot of variability in how much sleep they require.

 Does the child's sleep seem like it refreshes him or her?

Sometimes, the answer is definitely no: a child who is ill, in a strange environment, etc. will have difficulty getting enough rest. But when the child is otherwise well and on a normal schedule, a child who is getting enough sleep should wake up refreshed and ready to go. Sometimes kids seem to "drag" in the morning on school days, but do better on weekends or holidays when that extra 30 minutes of sleep in the morning can make a difference. If you notice this is the case, try moving the child's bedtime back by about 30 minutes. Children who constantly wake up unrefreshed from sleep and fall asleep during the day should probably be evaluated for a sleep disorder.