Children and Sleep: Basic Guidelines and Differences From Adults

children sleep basic guidelines

Children and Sleep: Basic Guidelines and Differences From Adults

Of all the topics vital to your child’s development, sleep may be the single most important. Kids need the right amount of sleep, and determining what this amount is typically relies primarily on the age range the child is in, along with a few other minor factors.

At Lit’l Scholars Learning Centers, we’re proud to offer numerous child care programs, including many — such as our infant and toddler programs — that involve regular time carved out for naps. We’re well aware of how important sleep is to developing children of all ages, and we’re happy to work with parents to ensure proper sleep requirements are met. In this two-part blog series, we’ll go over the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s (AASM) guidelines for sleep quantity for children of varying ages, then dig into some tips and resources we often offer parents on how to help children who aren’t getting enough sleep.

General Child Sleep Guidelines

Per the AASM, here are the general guidelines for child sleep quantity based on their age range:

  • Infants (ages 4 to 12 months): 12 to 16 hours of sleep per day, including naps
  • Toddlers (ages 1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day, including naps
  • Preschoolers (ages 3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day, including naps
  • Gradeschoolers (ages 6 to 12 years): 9 to 12 hours of sleep per day
  • Teens (13 to 18 years): 8 to 10 hours of sleep per day

As you’ve surely noticed, these guidelines include ranges, not precise numbers. This is because, as parents know, each child has a different sleep “clock” and will naturally vary in the amount of hours they need to function at their best.

In order to provide your child with the optimal hours of sleep per day, you need to make sure he or she is getting enough sleep during nighttime hours, but also making sure to allot time for regular naps, if applicable.

Children Aren’t Like Adults

When it comes to sleep, children’s bodies differ in major ways from adults. Many of us are entirely comfortable operating on limited sleep, even for several nights at a time; our children are not.

In fact, research has consistently shown that lack of sleep can have major negative impacts on a child’s mood, behavior, and ability to learn in school. In addition, insufficient sleep among children is linked with obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health problems down the road.

It’s important for parents to keep all of this in mind as they strive to make sure their children are getting the right amount of sleep. In part two of our series, we’ll go over some tips for doing so.

For more on the proper sleep guidelines for children based on their age, or to learn about any of our child care services and how we involve naps and sleep in them, speak to the staff at Lit’l Scholars Learning Centers today.

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