Q:

How much sleep do kids need?

A:

Quick Answer

Restful sleep is essential to a child's physical health and emotional well-being. How much sleep kids need varies by age, with babies requiring the most and teenagers requiring roughly the same amount as an adult.

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Full Answer

Research has shown that a solid night's sleep does everything from improving focus to enhancing physical health. For kids, sufficient sleep can help them perform better in school, maintain healthy relationships with loved ones and build a foundation of good physical health that can sustain them as they enter adolescence and adulthood, as noted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

The academy advises that sleep is tied to several other health issues. For example, inadequate sleep doesn't just make your child cranky, it can help contribute to a host of mental and physical health problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes. It can also negatively impact their emotional well-being, especially when they become teenagers. Additionally, a lack of sufficient sleep has been tied to everything from substance abuse to depression and suicide.

Sleep Requirements By Age
In general, the younger the child the more sleep they require. As they age, the amount kids need to sleep usually decreases. In addition, they may not need this entire amount all at once. In fact, babies and toddlers generally don't sleep for long stretches, instead napping for maybe two to four hours at a time. Instead of getting the total required amount of sleep all at once, they generally need that amount within a 24-hour period. The following sleep requirements are recommended by WebMD.

Babies and Toddlers
Newborns usually sleep at least 15 hours a day and may sleep as much as 18 hours per day, usually in short stretches. By the time they reach one month, they'll sleep around 14 or 15 hours per day, and between the ages of 4 and 11 months old, they may sleep for around 11 hours a day, although 14 or 15 is still ideal. Between the ages of 1 and 3 years, kids often sleep for around 10 hours a day, although 14 hours is optimal.

School-age Children
Once children near the age when they'll start school, their sleep requirements go down, although they still need more sleep than adults. They also typically don't nap, so sleep requirements generally refer to how much sleep they should get overnight. Starting at age 3, children need between 10 and 12 hours per day and, by age 7, they should be getting 10 or 11 hours a day. Their sleep requirements don't go down dramatically until age 12, when they should be getting eight or nine hours of sleep per night throughout their teenage years.

Sleep Patterns
The total amount of sleep kids is just a starting point for ensuring they get the rest they need to maintain optimal mental and physical well-being. While adults typically aim to get their required amount of sleep each night, kids may not sleep on a set schedule. In fact, newborns don't follow circadian rhythms the way older kids and adults do, meaning they sleep whenever they are tired and don't have a sleep schedule tied to daytime or nighttime. Further, up until children enter school, they usually only nap or may have multiple naps in addition to sleeping through the night. For very young children, set aside designated times of day for naps to ensure they stay well-rested.

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