Many parents ask how much sleep their child needs, usually because they are concerned that the amount they are getting isn’t enough. Ultimately, a child who is sleep deprived will not have the ability to attend and concentrate in the same way than if they were well rested, and behavior will also be negatively affected if a child is chronically tired.
Sleep needs vary depending on age. Below is a chart of average sleep requirements for children at different stages of development:
from “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Dr. Richard Ferber
While these are averages the variance is usually very little. In particular, “alert” children (high energy kids) actually need more sleep, not less, than most others – even though they may be very good at stalling bedtime. They need more time scheduled in for wind-down because it’s harder for them to shut out the world.
Sleep should be thought of not only as quantity, however, but in quality as well. As a matter of fact, the quality of your child’s sleep is as important as the quantity. High quality sleep means that it is not fragmented, in a dedicated sleep space (not in motion) and regularly timed.
So if you’re faced with a child who seems tired, cranky and not their best they may not be getting enough shut-eye. If you need to change your current sleep plan a professional sleep coach can help you and your child get the sleep your entire family needs.