How Your Kids Sleep Needs Change at Every Age

My three kids range from champion sleepers who nap during the shortest commutes, to reluctant sleepers who struggle to fall asleep before two am. It turns out that babies, young children, and teenagers go through rapid periods of brain development, learning, and physical growth, and they need a lot more sleep compared to an adult. Many parents aren’t sure of how much sleep their kids need or what the effects of inadequate sleep may be so I did a little research.

Here are some tips on how your kids’ sleep needs change as they get older and what could happen if they miss some of their sleep.

Newborns
Newborns who are up to three months old usually have irregular sleep patterns. They need to eat frequently, so they sleep for two or three hours, then wake up for eating and a diaper change. Newborns need between 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day, with the youngest babies sleeping up to 19 hours per day.

Babies
Doctors recommend that babies ages four to 11 months get between 12 and 15 hours of sleep per day. Most of this sleep should be at night, but babies still need one or two naps during the day. Maintaining a consistent daily schedule is key to helping babies settle into a good sleeping routine.

Toddlers
Between the ages of one and two, toddlers are busy young people. They are learning how to explore their world; discovering how to walk and run; catch and throw; and hold a crayon. All these things place great demands on developing brains and bodies. Toddlers need between 11 to 14 hours of sleep, including naps.

Preschoolers
Children ages three to five years are developing at a rapid pace. They’re learning how to count, read, write and make friends. At this age, children need between 10 and 13 hours of sleep every night. Some preschoolers will still take an early afternoon nap.

How much sleep does kids need?

School-age Children
Kids ages six to twelve need 9 to 11 hours of sleep every night. In this age group, children are often busy with school, extracurricular activities and family time on the weekends. Many parents schedule their children into multiple activities, making it a little more difficult to get as much sleep as they need.

Teenagers
Teens ages 13 to 17 are going through a rapid stage of growth and brain development. They need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. Around the age of 13, the body’s circadian rhythm shifts forward. This means that teens have a natural inclination to stay up later and sleep in later. This is often at odds with school schedules and parental preferences.

Young Adults
Young adults ages 18 to 25 need an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day. People this age enjoy the most deep-stage sleep, which allows them to wake up feeling energized. Getting less than six hours or more than 11 hours of sleep per night is detrimental to this age group.

Effects of Inadequate Sleep
Toddlers (and teenagers) often fight going to bed. They’re learning, and they often feel like they’ll miss something if they take a nap or go to sleep. Toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children often become hyper and grouchy when they lack sleep. Teenagers may exhibit mood changes when they’re sleep-deprived and they may also experience more anxiety and depression. Young adults who lack sleep often have trouble concentrating, are unable to focus and may have difficulty with their relationships. Their school or work performance may suffer. Sleep is very important and should not be overlooked. At any age, create a bedtime routine and invest in a mattress. Creating sleep hygiene at a young age can set them up for a lifetime of sleeping success.

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