How Much Sleep Do Kids Really Need?


By Jenna Bieker, Youth First Social Work Intern – March 31, 2022 –

It can be overwhelming to think about all the tasks we try to accomplish in a single day. Twenty-four hours does not seem to stretch far enough to cover time spent in school, sports, and other extra-curricular activities. When planning out how to spend time, sleep often gets pushed to the back burner. Unfortunately for kids, not getting enough sleep can lead to serious consequences.

Children need more sleep than adults because they are still growing. A child that is between one and two years old needs 11-14 hours of sleep each night. For three to five-year-olds, the suggestion drops to 10-13 hours. Youth between the age of six and thirteen need at least 9 hours and up to 11 hours snoozing nightly. Teenagers need up to 9.5 hours of sleep.

Most students start their school day around 8:00 in the morning. If wake up time is approximately an hour and a half before that at 6:30 am, even high school students need to be heading to bed at 9:00 pm. Some readers will think this is an unrealistic bedtime, but research indicates that consistent lack of sleep has multiple negative impacts.

Not getting enough sleep can lead to irritability, forgetfulness, increased stress, and an inability to concentrate. Over a longer period, not getting adequate sleep can contribute to severe health concerns like depression, anxiety, inflated blood pressure, and inflammation. The good news is that there are many ways to ensure your child is getting proper sleep.

To make sure youth in your life are sleeping well for the necessary number of hours, it is important to develop habits conducive to restful sleep. One tip is to try to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Have your child go to bed and get up around the same time each day. This consistent sleep schedule will allow the body to get sleepy and wake up at the correct times. Additionally, for older children, limit daytime naps to twenty minutes or less to avoid nighttime sleep disruptions. Limiting electronic use before bed is also essential to sleeping well.

Putting away your devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime will prevent blue light given off by electronics from tricking your brain into thinking it is time to stay awake. For parents, having your kids charge and store their devices outside of their bedrooms can provide an effective way to reduce their temptation to use electronics when they should be sleeping. Kids should not engage in physical activity or drink caffeine right before bedtime. Lastly, if children are struggling to sleep, they should try getting up to read or listen to calming music until they feel ready to rest again. Moving to a different room as opposed to staying in your bed can help get them back to sleep faster.

By ensuring our youth get the appropriate amount of sleep using these guidelines and tips, we can raise happier, healthier kids!