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While there is no set amount of sleep that all children need, there are guidelines which are sensible to adhere to. These are based on hours of sleep and the age of the child.
There is increasing evidence to show night time sleep is just as important as healthy eating and exercise for children to develop. We all know how irritable and ineffective we, as adults, can be without good quality sleep. Well, the same applies to children. The key to how much sleep is enough is whether a child gets up fairly easily in the morning, is alert and happy for most of the day, and is not grumpy.
It is now being evidenced that those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight or obese. This tends to be due to cravings for sugary or starchy food to either give them energy or to help stay awake. Younger children who are persistently sleep-deprived seem irritable, and overactive, seek stimulation and don’t concentrate well. Something which is now being picked up in classrooms too.
So, we now know how important sleep is. How much do we need?
Very young babies can almost sleep all day and all night. However, by the time they reach 1 yrs old they ought to only be napping for less than 3 hours during the day and sleeping for about 11 hours a night.
As your child becomes more active and heads into the toddler years this balance changes. By 3 their daytime nap can be as little as 45 mins (if at all) and they may be sleeping for a full 12 hours.
As they start school at 5 years old they will just be sleeping at night, and generally for 11 hours.
The amount of sleep a child needs doesn’t decrease a huge amount as they still need a good 9 hours sleep as a 16-year-old teenager.
At Snuggle Sac we’ve written about sleep issues, and worked with several high-profile sleep charities and organisation, over an 18-year period. Thankfully, awareness of the problems associated with sleep deprivation has increased and a lot more help is available to both sleep deprived children and their parents.