The Importance of Sleep for Child Development

Importance of Sleep for Children

The Importance of Sufficient Sleep to Children

For a child to maintain healthy growth and development, it is extremely important to establish how much or little sleep is sufficient to support them physically and mentally.

Sleep Needs of Children

Meeting the sleeping requirements of a child at any age can be difficult; so, we have listed some generalised information below about the requirements at each stage of development.

Babies (0–3 months old)

Despite often sleeping in short bursts, babies need an average of 16–18 hours a day to enable their rapid pace of development. This stage requires the most sleep as babies quickly grow both mentally and physically at this stage. Sleeping up to four hours in ‘active sleep’ children often move limbs, eyelids and breathe irregularly. ‘Active sleep’ is normal for a baby, as babies commonly wake easily, expecting to be fed.

Pre-Toddlers (4–11 months old)

Pre-Toddlers require 14-15 hours of sleep daily. While sleeping, pre-toddlers increase in muscle mass, release growth hormones, repair injuries, and reinforce their immune systems. Children in this stage of development who were sleep deprived were found to be more prone to illness. Establishing a pattern of sleep is now possible and following a set pattern will help with the consistency and predictability of future sleeping habits.

Toddlers (1–3 years old)

The average toddler sleeps between 12 and 14 hours each night. Toddlers begin to sleep more solidly and stir less during the night. Toddlers tend to be more active as they are more curious and explorative, which can lead to overtiredness or overactivity. Unfortunately, this can create disturbances in set sleeping times. It can be difficult to keep sleeping times consistent, however, naps often supplement for solid sleep, and assist with developing memory skills and flexible learning skills.

Pre-schoolers (4–6 years old)

On average, a pre-schooler should sleep for 11–13 hours a day. Sleep is a foundation for building cognitive function and is crucial for a pre-schooler to enhance their educational acumen. A study found that regular and consistent sleeping hours were linked to literacy, language, mathematics and phonological awareness in 4-year-old children. Problem-solving skills are also enhanced by sufficient sleep.

Please note that the information in this blog is generalised and may not be appropriate for your child. If you are concerned about your child’s development or are looking for additional information on this topic, please consult your GP.