Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Sleep tips for children

4-minute read

Key facts

  • Healthy sleep means getting enough good quality sleep, and having regular sleep routines.
  • Sleep is essential for growth, immunity and learning, and is important for helping children heal and recover from illness and injury.
  • Poor sleep is linked to mental health problems, poor growth and reduced school performance.

Why is sleep important for my child?

All children need sleep for growth, learning and development. Getting enough sleep is vital for your child's physical health, brain function, emotional wellbeing, safety, and ability to function day to day. Having a good night's sleep can help your child be happier, helps them to concentrate and remember things, and improves their behaviour.

Not having enough sleep or not sleeping well can affect how children learn and lead to mood swings, poor growth and behavioural problems.

How much sleep do children need?

The amount of sleep your child needs changes as they grow. Everyone is different, but as a guide, children need the following amounts of sleep every night:

  • ages 3 to 5: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
  • ages 6 to 12: 9 to 11 hours
  • ages 13 to 18: 8 to 10 hours

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 on 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: Try turning off computers, tablets and television one hour before bedtime to 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:

Whatever the cause, it is important to talk to your child about what is worrying them and decide on clear rules about a bedtime routine. Praising your child and reinforcing good behaviour will also help to improve bedtime problems. If you think your child may have a sleep problem, especially if they have trouble breathing while they sleep, talk to your doctor.

Resources and support

Visit the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby website for information and resources about sleep for children up to 5 years old and the Raising Children Network website for children of any age.

For more information about sleep in children and adolescents, visit the Sleep Health Foundation.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2022

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Sleep & children 3-5 years: what to expect | Raising Children Network

Preschoolers need 10-13 hours of sleep a night. Some still nap during the day. If preschoolers are having sleep problems, a bedtime routine can often help.

Read more on website

Sleep - children and nightmares - Better Health Channel

Your child may have only a few scary dreams a year, or be troubled by nightmares much more often.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Screen time & sleep: children & teens | Raising Children Network

Did you know that screen time can affect your child’s sleep? You can reduce risks by encouraging your child to avoid digital media in the hour before bed.

Read more on website

Sleep apnoea: children & teenagers | Raising Children Network

If your child has obstructive sleep apnoea, she might snore, pause or struggle for breath while asleep. If you think your child has sleep apnoea, see a GP.

Read more on website

Sleep problems in children

Common sleep disorders in children include sleepwalking, insomnia, night terrors and teeth grinding. Learn about managing these disorders.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Melatonin and Children | Sleep Health Foundation

This is a fact sheet about Melatonin and Children. Melatonin is commonly used in supplement form to help children with sleep disorders or other developmental disabilities or visual impairment.

Read more on Sleep Health Foundation website

Persistent sleep problems: kids & teens | Raising Children Network

Persistent sleep problems affect children’s sleep over a long period. Examples are insomnia, sleep apnoea, restless legs, delayed sleep phase and narcolepsy. Read more. Article available in: Arabic, Dari, Karen, Persian, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese.

Read more on website

Sleepwalking | Sleep Health Foundation

This is a fact sheet about Sleepwalking. Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder characterised by complex movements and behaviours that occur during deep sleep, common in young children.

Read more on Sleep Health Foundation website

Good sleep habits — Arthritis Australia

Good sleep habits (also called good sleep hygiene) are things that you can do to give your child the best chance of a good refreshing sleep

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

‎Sleep - Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI): Getting Toddlers to sleep on Apple Podcasts

Toddlers brains are taking in so much information during the day, does lack of sleep affect their development? Consultant Paediatrician - Professor Harriet Hiscock and Associate Professor of psychology Emma Sciberras from the Murdoch Childrens...

Read more on Murdoch Children's Research Institute website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.