How much sleep do children need?

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Children have much greater sleep needs than adults as sleep directly impacts on their physical and mental development. In fact, sleep is so important that by age two, most toddlers will have spent more time asleep than awake and children will have spent about 40% of their total childhood sleeping.1 The amount of sleep a child needs differs with age as well as between individuals.

You can determine how much sleep your child should be getting by looking at the average requirements for their age and by observing how they behave during the day. If they’re having trouble falling asleep, struggling to wake up and are fussy or cranky in the afternoon, it may because they’re not getting the sleep their body needs. A longer daytime nap or earlier bedtime could be considered.

Approximate sleep needs for children based on age:2

Note that there is some overlap between ages in the following table.

Age Sleep needs
Newborns (0‐2 months) 12‐18 hours2
This is typically on an irregular schedule. Around the clock there will be periods of one to three hours spent wake and periods of a few minutes to several hours of sleep. Babies may express their need for sleep by crying, fussing or rubbing their eyes.1
Infants (3‐11 months) 14‐15 hours2
Infants generally sleep around nine‐twelve hours through the night and take 30 minutes to two‐hour naps, one‐four times a day.1
Toddlers (1‐3 years) 12‐14 hours2
From around 18 months of age, daytime naps should decrease to once a day lasting for one-three hours.1
Pre‐schoolers (3‐5 years) 11‐13 hours2
Most will not require a nap after five years of age.1
School‐aged children (5‐10 years) 10‐11 hours2
Teenagers (11‐17 years) 8.5‐9.5 hours2

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Published November 28, 2014
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