How much sleep do children need?
The amount of sleep a child needs varies depending on the individual and certain factors, including the age of the child. Following are some general guidelines:
1-4 weeks old: 15-16 hours per day
Newborns typically sleep about 15 to 18 hours a day, but only in short periods of two to four hours. Premature babies may sleep longer and colicky ones shorter.
Since newborns do not yet have an internal biological clock, or circadian rhythm, their sleep patterns are not related to the daylight and night-time cycles. In fact, they tend not to have much of a pattern at all.
1-4 months old: 14-15 hours per day
By six weeks of age your baby is beginning to settle down a bit, and you may notice more regular sleep patterns emerging. The longest periods of sleep run four to six hours and now tend to occur more regularly in the evening. Day-night confusion ends.
4-12 months old: 14-15 hours per day
While up to 15 hours is ideal, most infants up to 11 months old get only about 12 hours of sleep. Establishing healthy sleep habits is a primary goal during this period, as your baby is now much more social, and their sleep patterns are more adult-like.
Babies typically have three naps and drop to two at around six months old, at which time (or earlier) they are physically capable of sleeping through the night. Establishing regular naps generally happens at the latter part of this time frame, as their biological rhythms mature. The mid-morning nap usually starts at 9am and lasts about an hour. The early afternoon nap starts from noon to 2pm and lasts an hour or two. The late afternoon nap may start from 3pm to 5pm and is variable in duration.
1-3 years old: 12-14 hours per day
As your child moves past the first year towards 18-21 months of age they will probably lose their morning nap and nap only once a day. While toddlers may need up to 14 hours a day of sleep, they typically get only about 10.
Most children from about 21 to 36 months of age still need one nap a day, which may range from one to three and a half hours long. They typically go to bed between 7pm and 9pm and wake up between 6am and 8am.
3-6 years old: 10-12 hours per day
Children at this age typically go to bed between 7pm and 9pm and wake up around 6am or 8am, just as they did when they were younger. At three, most children are still napping; at five, most are not. Naps gradually become shorter as well. New sleep problems do not usually develop after three years of age.
7-12 years old: 9.5-10.5 hours per day
At these ages, with social, school and family activities, bedtimes gradually become later and later, with most 12-year-olds going to bed at about 9pm. There is still a wide range of bedtimes, from 7:30pm to 10pm, as well as total sleep times, from nine to 12 hours, although the average is only about nine hours.
12-18 years old: 8.5-9.5 hours per day
Sleep needs remain just as vital to health and wellbeing for teenagers as when they were younger. It turns out that many teenagers may actually need more sleep than in previous years. Now, however, social pressures conspire against getting the proper amount and quality of sleep.