Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

Find out how much sleep your child needs for their age.

By Samiya Ahmad, MD
Pediatric Neurologist and Sleep Medicine Physician
CHRISTUS Children’s
Diplomate of the American Boards of Sleep Medicine, Neurology and Psychiatry with Special Qualification in Child Neurology

March 15 is World Sleep Day 

Spring is upon us and so is World Sleep Day on March 15 this year. World Sleep Day was established to promote the understanding that sleep is a privilege that is compromised all too often by the rigors of modern life demands.

Profound, huh? Not so mind boggling if you know exactly why sleep is so important for you and your family.

Why is sleep important?

We spend a third of our lives sleeping. Children under 2 years spend over half of their lives sleeping. It is the principle activity of the developing brain. Sleep is a basic human need, like eating and drinking.

Insufficient or inadequate sleep can negatively affect well-being by impairing memory, attention span, and learning capabilities. Chronic sleep deficits can lead to obesity, weakened immune system, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

Do you know these sleep facts?

  • Sleep-related accidents account for 71,000 injuries each year in the U.S.
  • 1,550 people die of sleep-related accidents
  • Sleep problems are reaching epidemic proportions and affect the quality of life for up to 45 percent of the world population
  • Sleep disorders are almost always preventable and treatable, however only one-third of affected people seek medical help

How can I ensure good sleep?

  • Maintain a consistent, age appropriate bedtime and wake-up time
  • Bedtimes before 9 p.m. for children are associated with better quality sleep
  • Establish dim light conditions one hour prior to bedtime; this is the most potent stimulant for the natural secretion of melatonin
  • Avoid use of electronic entertainment 30 minutes prior to bedtime
  • Establish and nurture a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Schedule age appropriate naps (naps phase out after age 5)
  • Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime
  • Enjoy sunshine during the day
  • Avoid caffeine after 4 p.m. and 6 hours prior to bedtime
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment with appropriate bedding and ambient temperature, in a quiet, dark, and well-ventilated room
  • Use bed only for sleeping and avoid eating, reading, and doing homework in it

How much sleep does my child need?

  • 0-2 month: 12-18 hours
  • 3-11 months: 14-15 hours
  • 1-3 years: 12-14 hours
  • 3-5 years: 11-13 hours
  • 5-10 years: 10-11 hours
  • 10-17 years: 8.5-9.25 hours
  • Adults: 7-9 hours

If you child is experiencing sleep problems, talk to your pediatrician and ask for a referral to a pediatric sleep doctor at CHRISTUS Children's.

If you need help finding a pediatrician, visit this page.