I get asked all the time, “Is my child getting enough sleep? How much sleep do kids need?”. There are a couple of ways to answer this question. Here’s one way of answering the question.
- Does your child wake up in the morning without complaint?
- Does she pay attention in school without difficulty?
- Does she stay awake on short car trips around town?
If the answer to all of these questions is yes in a school age or older child, the answer is likely yes. However, sleep quality matters too— your child could be getting twelve hours of sleep a night and still wake up exhausted if he has a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea, or if the TV is on in her room all night long. It can be harder to judge in younger children who nap routinely. That is why it is important to know what the normal range of sleep duration is by age.
The National Sleep Foundation updated the guidelines for how much sleep people of varies ages should sleep. What’s so interesting about this is that the range is pretty wide, especially in infants and young children. My mother was terrified that there was something wrong with me when I was sleeping 20 hours a day as an infant; other babies may sleep for 12 hours a day and their parents are miserable, because I guarantee that those hours are not occurring in a row.
- Newborns (0-3 months ): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
- Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
- Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
- School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
- Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
- Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
And here is a useful infographic from the NSF (link above):