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You know your child doesn't need as much sleep as he did when he was a baby, but how much is enough? Every child is different – some need more sleep and some need less. But here are general guidelines for the average number of hours of sleep a child needs over a 24-hour period.
|Age||Nighttime sleep||Daytime sleep||Average total sleep|
|2 years||10 to 12 hours||1 to 3 hours (1 nap)||11 to 14 hours|
|3 years||10 to 12 hours||1 to 3 hours (1 nap)||10 to 13 hours|
|4 years||10 to 13 hours||0 to 2.5 hours (1 or no nap)||10 to 13 hours|
|5 years||10 to 13 hours||0 to 2.5 hours (1 or no nap)||10 to 13 hours|
|6 years||9 to 12 hours||none||9 to 12 hours|
|7 years||9 to 12 hours||none||9 to 12 hours|
|8 years||9 to 12 hours||none||9 to 12 hours|
|*Note: The two sets of numbers don't always add up because children who take longer naps tend to sleep fewer hours at night and vice versa.|
Keep in mind that most kids need a lot of sleep – usually more than parents allow for. Sleep expert Jodi Mindell, author of Sleeping Through the Night, says that if a child has poor sleep habits or refuses to nap or go to bed before 10 at night, his parents often assume that he just doesn't need much sleep. That's probably not the case – it's more likely that such a child is actually sleep deprived, resulting in hyper, overtired behavior at bedtime.
If you think your child may be sleep deprived, ask yourself:
- Does my child frequently fall asleep while riding in the car?
- Do I have to wake him almost every morning?
- Does he seem cranky, irritable, or overtired during the day?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child may not be getting as much sleep as his body needs. To change this pattern, you'll need to help him develop good sleep habits, like developing a consistent bedtime routine, setting an appropriate bedtime, and sticking to both every night.
A preschooler or kindergartner who has outgrown napping needs a solid 10 to 13 hours of sleep each night, an amount that will gradually decrease as he gets older. By the time he's about 14, your child will need eight to 10 hours of shut-eye.