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How much sleep should my child be getting?

There are so many physical and mental benefits of getting a good night’s sleep, and it’s vitally important for children. We’re often asked how much sleep children of different ages need, so here’s what you need to know. 

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Everyone is different, and so many elements can affect if we get a good night’s sleep or not. But there’s nothing more important to a child’s development than getting enough sleep.  

You might already know that sleep helps to restore your body’s energy supplies for the next day, but there are many other reasons why getting sleep is so crucial:  

  • The brain releases hormones during sleep that help cells and tissues to grow and repair.  
  • Other hormones released during sleep include ones important for brain development.  
  • Sleep improves a child’s learning and how well they do at school.  
  • It improves a child’s mood and prevents them from being overtired (and all the emotions being overtired can bring, such as being snappy).  
  • Getting quality sleep means they’ll find it easier to get along with people during the day, which is important for maintaining friendships in school.  
  • Getting regular good sleep makes it less likely that they’ll fall ill with the common coughs and colds circulating at school.  
  • They’re more likely to maintain a healthy weight when sleeping well.  
  • Good sleep practices can lower the risk of serious health problems in the future such as heart disease and diabetes.  

  

It’s clear to see that sleep is an important part of your child’s health, helping them to develop properly cognitively, emotionally, and physically.  

But how much sleep should you be aiming for? Take a look at what’s recommended by the NHS:  

  

Child’s age   Recommended sleep time in 24 hours   
Infants 4-12 months   12-16 hours including naps   
Children 1-2 years   11-14 hours including naps   
Children 3-5 years   10-13 hours including naps   
Children 6-12 years   9-12 hours   
Teenagers 13-18 years   8-10 hours   

*Figures taken from 2016, Consensus Statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) regarding the recommended amount of sleep for children and young people.   

It’s worth mentioning that this is just a guide, and recommendations may be different for children with additional needs or health problems. We’d always recommend chatting to your GP for more personalised advice.

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