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Sleep Matters!

They look so precious WHEN THEY SLEEP! Did you know by the age of two, most children have spent more time asleep than awake? A child will spend about 40% of his/her childhood asleep. Sleep is so important for children because it impacts mental and physical development. Studies have shown that kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. The link between a lack of sleep and a child's behavior isn't always obvious. When kids lack sleep, they can become hyper, disagreeable, and have extreme changes in behavior. As a result, the adults in their life tend to get grumpy or lack energy as a result of no sleep.  

So how much sleep should my child be getting every day?

  • Infants under 1 year: 12-16 hours/24 hrs (including nap time) 

  • Children 1-2 years old: 11-14 hours/24 hrs (including nap time) 

  • Children 3-5 years old: 11-13 hours/24 hrs (including nap time) 

  • Children 6-12 years old: 9-12 hours/24 hrs

  • Teenagers 13-18 years old: 8-10 hours/24 hrs

The above numbers are recommended averages. If you are noticing increased behaviors, difficulty with attention, or your child being irritable, they may need to get more sleep.  If your child is 4 and is getting 11 hours, try increasing to 13 hours which falls within the recommended range. 

Tips for a successful bedtime/naptime

  • Develop a bedtime routine that can be consistently followed every night

  • Start around the same time every night. 

  • A wind down period should start 15-30 minutes before their actual bedtime routine begins. This wind down period may consist of dimming lights, playing some calming music, and keeping your energy and voice calmer and moving more slowly, your kids should be able to pick up on this. 

  • Stop the use of electronics/screen time at least an hour before bed. 

  • Some bedtime routine ideas; take a warm bath, brush teeth, read a book, have cuddle time, etc. 

  • Make the room dark, be quiet or you can try to use white noise that is a constant and even sound (make sure you don’t have this too close to your child or too loud), and have the room at a cooler, yet comfortable temperature. 

  • If your child wakes up during the night, walk them back to their room with as little commotion as possible. 

  • You can also set a wake-up time/visual for when the child is allowed to wake up and leave his or her room in the morning. If a child is up before this, he/she can play quietly in their room, until their wake-up time.

Is NAPPING What You Dreamed Of?


  • Sleep 9-12 hours during the night 

  • 30 minute to two-hour nap, one to four times a day, reducing gradually as they reach age one. 

Toddlers (ages 1-3 years old) 

  • Continue to nap twice a day (1-3hrs) until 12–18 months of age, with the second nap usually being dropped between 13–18 months. 

  • If your child is resisting a second nap during the day, after being awake for 3-4 hours, it is probably time to drop nap number two. With a one-nap-a-day schedule, nap-time should occur after lunch around the midday mark, and bedtime can be moved earlier. Over time, the naptime is moved later (to 1:30 p.m. by two years of age) and bedtime is adjusted later as needed. It is also important that toddlers are falling asleep on their own. The consistent bedtime/naptime routine can help with this. 

3-4 years old or when they start resisting naptime and bedtime

  • This can be a sign to drop the daily nap. However, when the nap is eliminated, bedtime should be moved earlier, this can be as early as 7:00pm.

  • Many preschool aged children need to be awake for 7-8 hours before their nap. Therefore, they may not be ready to nap until as late as 2:00 p.m. You can also limit the nap to an hour or move bedtime an hour later.

  • If a child continues to resist their nap at a later time or napping interferes with falling asleep at a reasonable time, it may be time to eliminate the nap altogether. This can be a big adjustment to the child, parents, and caregivers. You can try to replace the nap with just a quiet/relaxing time in order to give everyone a break. 

Children ages 6-13 years

  • 9-11 hours of sleep

  • When children are in school there is an increasing demand on their time with homework, sports, other extracurricular, and social activities.

  • School-aged children become more interested in TV, computers, the media, as well as caffeine products; which can all lead to difficulty with sleep.

  • Watching TV close to bedtime has been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, anxiety around sleep and sleeping fewer hours. There should be no TV 30-60 minutes prior to their bedtime and no TVs in their room. 

Brittany Schock, MS,OTR/L

If you have any further questions or concerns about your child’s sleep or establishing a sleep or daily routine, please feel free to reach out to our Occupational Therapist at KIDS IN MOTION PEDIATRIC THERAPY & WELLNESS at 701-471-2782 or

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