Healthier Sleep in Children

Ages Birth to 12 Years

Sleep is one of the most important contributors to your child’s physical and mental health. Good sleep habits, sleep hygiene, or “sleep health” are alternative terms often used to describe sleep promoting practices. The explanation as to why healthy sleep practices promote sleep is likely to be, at least in part, that they work by improving the regulation of sleep, either by reinforcing the body’s natural circadian rhythms (ie, timing of light and darkness), or by increasing the drive to sleep. Other sleep practices help us to associate certain activities (like a bedtime routine) and environments (ie, the bedroom) with sleep. Healthy sleep behaviors also promote sleep by reducing factors in the environment which are stimulating (like caffeine) and increasing relaxation, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.

Finally, good sleep practices include providing an adequate opportunity for sleep based on age and individual sleep needs and an environment that is conducive to good sleep quality and safety.

1 Have your child go to bed at the same time every night, preferably before 9:00PM.

2. Your child should have an age-appropriate nap schedule.

3. Establish a consistent, positive bedtime routine (this can include brushing teeth, songs, bedtime stories).

4. The bedroom should be sleep-conducive friendly – cool, dark, and quiet.

5. Encourage your child to fall asleep independently.

6. Your child should avoid bright light at bedtime and during the night, and increase light exposure in the morning.

7. Have your child avoid heavy meals and vigorous exercise close to bedtime.

8. Keep all electronics, including televisions, computers, and cell phones, out of the child’s bedroom and limit the use of electronics before bedtime.

9. Your child should avoid caffeine, including many sodas, coffee, and teas (as well as ice tea), and chocolate.

10. Have your child keep a regular daily schedule, including consistent mealtimes.


AGE                       SLEEP NEED
3-12 months —-   14 to15 hours
1-3 years —-        12 to14 hours
3-5 years —-        11 to 13 hours
6-12 years —-      10 to 11 hours
12-18 years —-    8.5 to 9.5 hours