Dr Mark Rosenthal

MD MB ChB FRCP FRCPCH BSc

Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8832

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

How Much Sleep Does Your Child Need?

Children need more sleep than adults, but the amount required will change with age. It’s important to ensure that your child is getting enough rest at each stage in their development and to be aware of the signs of sleep disorders in children.

Sleep Requirements by Age

Although every child is different, it is possible to estimate how much sleep your child needs from the average requirements for each age group.

  • Babies can need up to 19 hours of sleep a day, usually split into several naps in between feeds, but there’s a lot of variation in sleep patterns at this age.
  • Toddlers need about 11-14 hours of sleep, usually still including at least one nap during the day.
  • Preschool age children should be able to start giving up their daytime nap, but they’ll still need about 10-13 hours of sleep a night.
  • Children of primary school age need an average of 9-11 hours of sleep, which should gradually decrease as they get older. As a general rule, bedtimes can get later by 15 minutes for each year of age.
  • Teenagers generally need a little more sleep than adultsand indeed pre-teenagers, usually around 9-11 hours a night.
  • The average adult needs 9.25 hours per night although few get it for numerous reasons. Over the last 40 years the average amount of adult sleep in the US has fallen by 90 minutes.

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

Knowing how much sleep your child is likely to need at each age can help you to choose the right bedtime, but it is also important to check that your child is sleeping properly. Some children might need more sleep than average, while some sleep disorders in children can affect the quality of sleep even when you have the right bedtime.


A child who is getting plenty of sleep should:

  • Get up easily in the mornings.
  • Not feel drowsy or fall asleep during the day.
  • Feel tired but not overtired at bedtime.
  • Children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen can help relieve fever and other symptoms, but make sure that you follow the instructions to ensure you give the right dose

If your child doesn’t seem to be getting enough rest, you might need to gradually set an earlier bedtime or make changes in their bedroom to help them to sleep better. You can also seek advice from a doctor on sleep disorders in children if you aren’t able to find a solution by yourself.