Normal Sleep


Dr. Patel
The amount of sleep a child needs varies based on age, as well as the individual child. Some children function just as well on nine hours of sleep as others do on 12 hours. But all children need adequate sleep to grow and remain healthy. Dr. Green, what can you tell us about normal sleep?

Dr. Green
Well, Dr. Patel, sleep helps children restore energy, grow physically, and develop mentally. In fact, research suggests that newborn infants are capable of a simple form of learning while they are asleep, a form of learning that develops a part of the brain called the cerebellum. As children grow, sleep continues to play an important role in the development of brain pathways and processes.

How much and how often a child sleeps changes considerably during the first few years of life. Newborns and babies up to three months may sleep 14 to 17 hours total a day, including daytime and nighttime sleeping. Babies between four and 12 months need a little less sleep, about 12 to 16 hours, including two daytime naps. Most children start to sleep through the night between six and nine months, but some may take up to 12 months.

Children between the ages of one and two years old normally get anywhere between 11 and 14 hours of total sleep, including one or two daytime naps. Children three to five years old need 10 to 13 hours of sleep, often including one daytime nap. By age five, most children do not need a daytime nap. Between the ages of six and 13, children typically need nine to 11 hours of sleep. Teenagers should be getting eight to 10 hours of sleep a day.