“I don’t think I’ve slept well in over six months since my delivery! When will my baby start sleeping through the night?”
“My son refuses to sleep in the afternoon. Is that okay?”
“My teenage daughter sleeps more than she used to a year ago. Is she weak?”
Children and their sleep patterns have been worrying parents much before the advent of mobile phones and TV screens. How do you know if your child is getting enough sleep? Sleep patterns and sleep requirements vary according to the age of the child. Read on to find out how much sleep does your kid need…
- New Born
A new born baby needs 16 to 18 hours of sleep. This sleep occurs in spells of two to four hours. If your child has been born premature, they may sleep longer, while a baby that suffers from colic may sleep less. In this phase, the baby does not have an internal biological clock and their bodies cannot make out if it’s day or night. Their sleep may not have much of a fixed pattern. After 6 weeks, until about 4 months of age, your baby will sleep for four to six hours at a stretch.
- After 6 months
After six months, the sleep requirement comes down to 14 to 16 hours. Now their body begins to develop their own biological clock. A regular sleep pattern tends to set in.
- Between 1 to 3 years of age
The sleep requirement comes down even further to 12 to 14 hours between the ages of 1 to 3 years.
- In older children
The sleep requirement is 10 to 12 hours a day. New sleep problems usually do not begin after the age of three. In this age, with school and activity classes and waiting for parents to get home from work, bed times get pushed to later and later. In the teenage years, many children may need more hours of sleep than they previously did.
- After the age of 18 years
Now, adolescents require 7 to 9 hours of sleep, just like adults.
Why do Infants need so much sleep?
It may seem like an infant does nothing more than feeding, soiling diapers, sleeping and some more sleeping. So why do they sleep so much? Infants need to sleep for such long hours, because the period of sleep is actually a period of growth. They need to sleep to grow. A hormone called the growth hormone is secreted in sleep. They get up to feed when their body reserves are over and then go back to sleep.
Do all kids need to nap?
In children who are more than a year old, they do sleep well as their growth is still occurring. Their sleep pattern changes now. They take two short naps in the day. The mid-morning nap that is seen around 9 am usually lasts for an hour. The early afternoon nap starts between 12 to 2 pm and lasts for an hour or a couple of hours. The late afternoon nap may begin between 3 to 5 pm and may vary in length. If properly trained, they will be able to sleep for a good eight hours at a stretch in the night.
After the age of five, children do not need a nap. They can sleep for ten or eleven hours at a stretch in the night and that would be enough to keep them fully rested and active throughout the day. So after the age of five, our body does not actually need a nap, provided we get a restful sleep, go to sleep at the correct time and get up at the correct time. If one sleeps for less hours, one will definitely find one napping in the day.
We hope this guide to how much sleep does your child need, answers most of your questions. If you have any more queries, feel free to get in touch with Dr. Indu Khosla, Pediatric Sleep Specialist and Pediatric in Mumbai at Dr. Indu’s New Born & Childcare Centre in Andheri or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply whatsapp at 8779982090.