How Many Hours of Sleep Do Kids Need?

Jan 21, 2022 Kids' Health Sleep Tips

How Many Hours of Sleep Do Kids Need?

Quick Health Scoop

  • Between 34-78% of children of all ages don’t get enough good quality sleep [1,2]
  • Inadequate sleep can lead to a variety of health and sleep problems, including irritabilityHow many hours of sleep do children need? Sleep requirements depend on their age, with newborns and toddlers needing the most
  • Parents can improve their child’s sleep by helping to establish good sleep habits, such as establishing a consistent bedtime and monitoring screen time

While we all function better when we get enough sleep, children, in particular, need to consistently get adequate sleep to learn, function, and develop. However, research shows that 34% of children and 78% of high school students don’t get adequate sleep on a typical school night.[1,2] 

And insufficient sleep leads to a variety of health and sleep problems. For children, poor sleep can trigger stress and irritability, negatively affect learning and decision-making, and can elevate anxiety.[3] Insufficient sleep is also associated with an increase in high blood pressure, injuries, type-2 diabetes, obesity, attention and behavior problems, and depression—especially for teenagers who face increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.[4,5] 

But how many hours of sleep do kids need? How will sleep benefit kids? And what can you do to help improve your child’s sleep quality?

Let’s dig into the research for answers.

How Much Sleep Do Kids Need By Age?

For starters, it helps to know what the sleep requirements are for kids. Can your preschooler develop normally with 12 hours of sleep? Is eight hours of sleep enough for an 11-year old? Can your high schooler get by on six hours of sleep a night? The amount of kids’ daily sleep needs varies by age. The National Sleep Foundation offers these sleep recommendations:[6]

Age

Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day

Newborn (0-3 months)

14–17 hours 

Infant (4-12 months)

12–15 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

Toddler (1-2 years)

11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

Preschool (3-5 years)

10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

School Age (6-12 years)

9–11 hours per 24 hours

Teen (13-18 years)

8–10 hours per 24 hours

Source: National Sleep Foundation 

How Will Sleep Benefit My Child?

Getting adequate sleep contributes to a child’s health in many ways:[3,5,7]

  • Improves focus, alertness, and concentration
  • Boosts academic performance
  • Improves performance in sports (i.e., faster, stronger, and more accurate)
  • Enhances overall well-being with a more optimistic attitude 
  • Helps maintain healthy weight
  • Improves decision-making
  • Supports healthy immune system
  • Improves behavior, memory, and mental health

And, as any parent knows, when kids’ sleep quality improves, family life is better for everyone! 

How Can I Help My Child’s Sleep?

Your child’s behaviors during the day—especially before bedtime—can play a major role in the quality of the child’s sleep at night. You can help your child get a good night's sleep by establishing some sleep habits that, hopefully, will last a lifetime. Try these ideas from health experts.[8,9,10] 

  • Establish a consistent bedtime routine to help your child prepare for sleep. This might include a warm bath, spending quiet time with parents, and reading books. Even older children need a healthy bedtime routine.
  • Aim for a bedtime that allows your child to get the recommended amount of sleep for his or her age. (See chart above.)
  • Create a regular sleep schedule. The wake/sleep time should not vary by more than 30-45 minutes—even on weekends.
  • Create a relaxing space that invites sleep. Your child’s bedroom should be calm, dark, quiet, and at a comfortable, cool temperature.
  • Dim lighting before bedtime.
  • Avoid electronic devices (including TV, computer, cell phone, tablet, and gaming system) at least 60 minutes before bedtime.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and sugary drinks late in the day.
  • Reduce fluid intake before bedtime.
  • Engage in physical activity and eat a healthy diet.

Of course, you should also set a good example for your child to follow by making sleep a priority for yourself. If you don’t follow some of the tips above, incorporate them into your own bedtime routine to model what good “sleep hygiene” looks like. In doing so, you’re demonstrating that good sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle, just like exercising regularly, eating healthy, and, if needed, taking vitamin supplements.

Learn More: Can I Give My Kid Melatonin?

The Bottom Line

With so many kids (of all ages) not getting enough sleep, it’s important to understand the effects of poor sleep on their health. Insufficient sleep can cause stress, increase obesity, and negatively impact school performance. How many hours of sleep should kids get? It depends on their age, with babies and toddlers needing the most sleep and teens needing the least. Fortunately, parents can help kids improve their sleep by creating good sleep habits, such as establishing a consistent bedtime, creating a bedtime routine, and monitoring screen time. Teach kids that good sleep habits are part of a healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of physical activity; eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (for meals and snacks); and, if needed, taking vitamin supplements.

Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.

Learn More About Sleep Health:

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice or a recommendation for any specific product. Consult your health care provider for more information. 

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References 

  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Healthy People 2030. “Increase the proportion of children who get enough sleep.” 2021. Accessed on: September 21, 2021. https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/browse-objectives/children/increase-proportion-children-who-get-sufficient-sleep-emc-03
  2. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Healthy People 2030. “Increase the proportion of high school students who get enough sleep.” 2021. Accessed on: September 21, 2021. https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/browse-objectives/sleep/increase-proportion-high-school-students-who-get-enough-sleep-sh-04
  3. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “American Academy of Sleep Medicine organizes second annual Student Sleep Health Week.” September 7, 2021. Accessed on: September 22, 2021. https://aasm.org/american-academy-of-sleep-medicine-organizes-second-annual-student-sleep-health-week/
  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. “AAP Supports Childhood Sleep Guidelines.” June 13, 2016. Accessed on: September 21, 2021. https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/news/6630
  5. Centers for Disease Control. “Sleep and Health.” May 29, 2019. Accessed on: September 22, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/sleep.htm
  6. Sleep Health. “The National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary.”  March 2015. Accessed on: September 21, 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29073412/
  7. American Academy of Pediatrics. “Healthy Sleep Habits: How Many Hours Does Your Child Need?” November 16, 2020. Accessed on: September 21, 2021. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sleep/Pages/healthy-sleep-habits-how-many-hours-does-your-child-need.aspx
  8. Cleveland Clinic. “Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep? Here’s How to Tell.” September 10, 2019. Accessed on: September 21, 2021. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-tell-if-your-child-is-getting-enough-sleep/
  9. Centers for Disease Control. “Tips for Better Sleep.” July 15, 2016. Accessed on: September 22, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html
  10. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Healthy Sleep Habits.” August 2020. Accessed on: September 22, 2021. https://sleepeducation.org/healthy-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits/

Authors

Melissa Dorval Pine, RD

Science and Health Educator

Melissa is a registered dietitian (RD) and works in our Medical and Scientific Communications department as a Science and Health Educator. She has worked for Pharmavite for over 20 years educating consumers, healthcare practitioners, retailers and employees about nutrition, dietary supplements and overall wellness. Prior to joining the Medical and Scientific Communications team, Melissa launched and managed Pharmavite’s Consumer Relations department. Melissa received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science, from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, and completed her dietetic internship at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in East Orange New Jersey.

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Lisa Beach

NatureMade Contributor

Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.

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