How much sleep is too much for a toddler?

For most parents of toddlers, just like for the toddlers themselves, the times when their children get some sleep are hard-earned rest periods after long days full of play and discovery. Some children sleep a little longer than the 11 to 14 hours in a 24-hour period recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, though.

Too much daytime sleep

It’s hard to say whether or not most amounts of sleep are ‘too much sleep’ as a whole, but there is some general agreement about too much daytime, napping sleep. Experts generally agree that, once children reach the toddler years, more than about 3 hours of daytime, napping sleep per day is too much, since after that, it can begin to interfere with nighttime sleep.

Nighttime sleep is deeper and more restful, and once children reach the toddler years, and can sleep through the night without needing to refuel, it’s healthy for them to do so. This means that children who cluster bigger portions of their sleep into naps during the day may benefit from some sleep-pattern adjustments.

A sudden increase in sleep

Toddlers who sleep a lot usually start out as babies who sleep a lot, and babies who sleep a lot often grow into adults who need a lot of sleep, too. Every person is wired differently, and Baby’s level of need for sleep is just another part of their unique physical and emotional makeup.

If Baby usually sleeps within the normal range, but lately has been adding on a few extra hours of shut-eye, they might just be due for a growth spurt. After the first year, children’s growth does slow down considerably, but that doesn’t mean Baby isn’t still growing every day for years to come, and sleep helps signal to the body to produce the human growth hormone it relies on to fuel that growth. 

However, in some cases, especially when accompanied by other symptoms, even less obvious ones, like mood changes or crankiness, adding extra sleep to their routine can also be Baby’s body’s way of trying to heal itself when it’s fighting off an illness. If you’re concerned that Baby’s extra sleep might be a sign of a health problem, don’t hesitate to consult with their doctor.

Less restful sleep

Increased drowsiness can be a sign that the sleep they are getting is being interrupted, and isn’t getting them the rest they need. This could be caused by a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, which can lead to children waking up for brief periods many times during the night. Children with disturbed sleep patterns may need extra naps, may fall asleep any time they’re in a stroller or car, or may be drowsy and irritable throughout the day. Children who may be suffering from sleep disorders should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

  • “Sleep and your 1-2 year old.” The Nemours Foundation, 2017. Web. 
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