How Many Hours of Sleep Do Children Need?

tired boy fell asleep on his books while stydying

As school starts, it is crucial to establish healthy bedtime routines to ensure that children get enough sleep each and every night. In this article, we will be focusing on young, school-age children. If you have a teenager and would like to learn more about the sleep needs of teens, you may want to check out our blog post on that topic as well.

How many hours of sleep do children need?

Sleep deprivation among children is quite common. Only half of U.S. children are getting enough sleep. You may be surprised to learn that sleep-deprived children perform at a significantly lower grade level — up to 2 grade levels lower! Another school year is beginning and our routines are shifting. Earlier mornings, busier schedules, and more stress can feel overwhelming. Parents are struggling with the question of “how many hours of sleep do kids really need?” 

Ages 3-5

The National Sleep Foundation suggests that children in preschool, ages 3-5, need 10-13 hours of sleep. If your mornings start at 7am, then a bedtime of 7pm may be what your child needs to function at her best the next day in preschool. Without enough sleep she may be irritable at bedtime and resist going to sleep because she is overtired and then feel grumpy and uncooperative in the morning when you are trying to wake her up for the day. 

Ages 6-12

Children, ages 6-12, in primary school and middle school need 9-11 hours of sleep according to The Sleep Council. A 6th grader that is not sleeping enough may perform at only the 4th grade level in class. A lack of sufficient sleep causes the brain to struggle and function at a much lower level throughout the day. If your mornings start at 6:30am, a bedtime of 8pm may be just what your child needs to function at his best in school.

Ages 13-18

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends at least 8-10 hours of sleep for ages 13-18. Quality sleep can help protect teens from anxiety and depression and help them perform better academically. 

young girl smiling

Strategies for Better Sleep

Does your child resist going to bed? Are you worn out from nighttime tantrums and meltdowns? Does your child struggle to wake up in the morning? Is your little one grumpy and irritable each school day morning?

Children who are sleep deprived may have issues with fidgeting, lack of focus, poor academic performance, disruptive behavior in class. They may be diagnosed with ADHD, ADD, and/or Sensory Processing Disorder. If your child is struggling with sleep, get actionable advice from our article 12 Strategies To Help Your Child Sleep Better.

Falling Asleep

Childhood insomnia and sleep problems are overwhelming and exhausting for many families. Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep resulting in non-restorative sleep. If your child struggles to fall asleep, there are some steps you can take to help them get ready for bed each night. 

Designing a sleep-friendly bedroom for your child can help the bedtime routine go more smoothly. Keeping a consistent routine is essential in helping your child sleep through the night. Avoiding caffeine, limiting screen time and increasing daytime exercise are all effective ways to help improve sleep. Adding a weighted blanket or a weighted stuffed animal can also provide the comfort your child needs to relax and fall asleep.

Sleeping Through the Night

A sleep study found that 43% of elementary children and 29% of middle school children struggle with sleep issues. Sometimes school age children accidentally wake themselves up during the night. They may need to go to the bathroom or feel thirsty or they might be frightened by a noise or disturbance. 

The problem intensifies when your child is unable to self-soothe and go back to sleep. He may get up and start playing in the middle of the night or he may come and wake you up for help going back to sleep. This is disruptive and can become a difficult cycle of nighttime awakenings and poor quality sleep. 

Creating an ideal sleeping environment and reserving the bedroom for sleep only also helps. A cozy sensory bedsheet can help your child feel hugged and secure all through the night.

Successful Mornings 

Following a consistent bedtime routine, prepping the night before and emphasizing mindfulness and gratefulness for a positive mindset can all help busy mornings go more smoothly. 

If children are struggling to wake up in the morning, it’s a sign that they need to go to bed earlier at night. Finding that bedtime sweet spot for your child is key. 

Prepping school work, clothing, lunches and backpacks the night before can help rushed mornings flow more easily. 

Encouraging your child to focus on the now instead of dreading the future or worrying about the past is helpful. 

Practice gratefulness and mindfulness over breakfast in the morning and start the day off with a brighter attitude.

Child Sleep Calculator

Select your child's age to discover the minimum recommended hours of sleep your child needs.