Sleep is vital for children’s growth, learning and development. Having a good sleep every night makes your child happier, helps them to concentrate and remember things, and improves their behaviour.
How much sleep do children need?
The amount of sleep we need changes with age. Everyone is different, but as a guide, children need the following amounts of sleep every night:
- ages 3 to 5: 10 to 13 hours
- ages 6 to 13: 9 to 11 hours
- ages 14 to 17: 8 to 10 hours
Getting enough sleep is vital for your child’s physical health, brain function, emotional wellbeing, safety, and ability to function day to day. Not having enough sleep or not sleeping well can affect how children learn and lead to mood swings and behavioural problems.
Tips to help children sleep well
Getting enough sleep is as important for your child as healthy eating and exercising. Here are some tips to help your child fall asleep, stay asleep and get enough good quality sleep.
- Establish a sleep schedule: Make sure your child goes to bed early enough to get the sleep they need. Once you have set an appropriate bed time, stick to it — even at the weekend.
- Establish a bedtime routine: Follow the same routine every day: bath or shower, change into pyjamas, brush teeth, read or spend quiet time in their bedroom, lights out and go to sleep.
- Help your child wind down: Busy children need some time to relax. Consider playing soft music or reading to them.
- Make sure the bedroom is suitable for sleep: Ensure the bedroom is dark and quiet. If your child is anxious or afraid at night, use a night light.
- Avoid stimulants: Make sure your child avoids tea, coffee, chocolate and sports drinks, especially in the afternoon.
- Turn off technology: Turning off computers, tablets and television 1 hour before bedtime should help your child sleep better.
Signs of sleep problems
If you establish good sleep habits and your child is still having trouble falling or staying asleep, they might have a sleep problem. You might notice behaviour problems, difficulty concentrating or they might seem tired during the day.
Signs of sleep problems include:
- wetting the bed
- night terrors
- teeth grinding
- trouble breathing while asleep, or taking long pauses between breaths
If you think your child may have a sleep problem, talk to your doctor.
More information and resources
Sleep Clock for children
Download the 'Sleep Clock' activity from the Sleep Help Foundation to help your children maintain a good night's sleep.
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Last reviewed: January 2020