Last year, I shared the findings of a consensus panel indicating that adults should sleep at least 7 hours per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has followed this with a similar expert panel to develop recommendations for sleep for children. I treat adults with sleep disorders but do not treat many children or adolescents. However, as a parent, I am often asked for advice by other parents who ask, “How much should my child sleep?”
I have read a number of studies related to healthy sleep in children but would never consider myself an expert. Therefore, I will defer to the panel and simply restate their findings on the recommended amount of sleep for children.
AASM Panel Recommendations for Healthy Sleep in Children
To promote optimal health, children should sleep the following amounts on a regular basis:
- Infants* 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours.
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours.
Now Comes What May Be the Hard Part
Many books have been written about children and sleep, and any parent can attest to the fact that healthy sleeping patterns are much more than simple recommendations on the ideal amount of sleep. However, outlining the target amount of sleep does have an important purpose. These let parents know whether their children are getting enough sleep, even if it is not always an easy process to get them to sleep.
From one parent to another…good luck!