How Much Sleep Do Children Need?

It reduces crankiness, lessens the risk of obesity and depression, and helps improve academic performance. Yes, getting the right amount of sleep can be life-changing. But is your child getting enough?

Sleep needs evolve over time, says Wendy Proskin, MD, a pediatrician with WESTMED Medical Group in White Plains and Rye. Newborns sleep up to 21 hours a day, she says, while toddlers get 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night plus one nap. School-age children need about 10 to 12 hours total. “But this can vary,” she says. 

“Generally, if children are constantly grumpy, they may need to be sleeping more.”Teenagers typically get seven or eight hours of sleep per night, which is not really enough, according to Deborah Tesler, MD, of Westchester Health Soundview Pediatrics in White Plains. “But many can’t get to sleep until late, because they’re busy with school, athletics, jobs, and homework,” she says. “And many schools start very early.” Sleeping in on weekends can help make up the deficit, but it doesn’t have the same restorative effect as sufficient nightly sleep, she says.

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One way to get more ZZZs may be to turn off the electronic devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that kids and teens who have more “screen time” at night tend to have a harder time falling asleep.