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Healthy habits: Kids’ sleep

As a parent, you’re probably well aware of how cranky kids can get when they’re short on sleep. But beyond minimizing grumpiness and temper tantrums, Stanford Children’s Health says adequate shut-eye is super important for physical and mental development.

So, how many hours of sleep does your child need, and what can you do to help them achieve it? Read on for tips and insight.

How many hours of sleep does your child need?

It varies by age. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), kids at age 3 need roughly 10 hours per night and an hour-long nap.

From ages 4 through 6, kids still typically need about 10 hours of sleep a night, though most are done taking naps. Then up until the teen years, children need at least nine hours of nightly sleep.

Sleep habits and tips for kids

What can you do to help your child sleep better or longer? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but we outlined a few things that might work.

Winding down, powering off

Screen time before bed is stimulating. And according to Stanford Children’s Health, it can block the production of crucial sleepytime hormones, including melatonin and serotonin. Aim to power off devices at least an hour before bedtime and wind down with books, songs, and cozy lighting.

Nightlights and smart clocks

While TV, tablets, and overhead lighting should go off well before bedtime, nightlights and smart clocks can be beneficial for many kids. The Cleveland Clinic says relatively dim nightlights are no problem. And app-controlled clocks designed for younger children can be set to illuminate or change color at certain hours, helping kiddos know when it’s time to sleep and when it’s OK to get out of bed in the morning.


Sometimes how you start the day can reinforce a good night’s sleep. Exposure to sunlight first thing in the morning, for example while eating breakfast, can help regulate a child’s sleep hormones and circadian rhythm.

Maintaining a bedtime routine

Developing and maintaining a consistent bedtime routine is crucial for achieving healthy sleep habits. Stanford Health explains that it can be comforting for children to know what to expect at the end of the day while regulating their circadian rhythm.

Of course, push-back is to be expected at pretty much any age. But when you stick to it, your child will start getting tired around the same time each day, which can help them fall asleep faster.

Focused attention before bed

Kids who resist bedtime more often than not or have a habit of hopping out of bed after the lights go out might be craving focused attention from their parents. Raising children is exhausting, to say the least, and it’s understandable to try to rush through bedtime.

But spending just 10 extra minutes reading stories, talking about the day, or cuddling before tucking your child in could make a world of difference.

Sleep changes with puberty

Around when your child starts to experience changes related to puberty, their sleep will also be impacted. Hormones are now telling their bodies it’s not time to go to sleep for about 2 hours after their usual 8-9 pm sleep window. Working through this natural change can be tricky while helping them still get their 9 hours of daily sleep. Extra sleep on the weekends may throw their internal clock off even more, but short naps and consistent bedtime routines may be helpful.

Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team


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