Parent guide: Recommended sleep times for children

Does your child’s bedtime make a difference? According to experts at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute the answer is yes…because kids need their sleep!

Most children aged between 5 and 12 get about 9.5 hours of sleep night, but experts agree that the majority of kids aged under 13 need more than that.

As we adults know, insufficient sleep can reduce our ability to function well. The same thing happens when kids go to bed too late and develop unhelpful sleep habits that affect their behaviour and learning.

How much sleep does your child need?

A too-late bedtime may lead to:

1.Difficulty getting to sleep.

Once your child passes his natural “sleep window” his body will produce cortisol and even adrenaline (hormones that stimulate the body). When this happens, you might notice that you child gets a ‘second wind’ and could be up for hours.

2.Night waking. 

Often when children go to bed too late, their sleep will not be as sound and they often wake during the night.  This causes the chemical cortisol to be released in their body, causing poor sleep quality.

3.Early morning waking. 

It doesn’t seem logical, but children’s sleep experts say that children who wake very early in the morning, are often going to bed too late.

4.Less sleep overall. 

Research has shown that children with a late bedtime get cumulatively less sleep than kids who have earlier bedtimes. This means that the old wives’ tale about making up for missed sleep by sleeping later or napping longer is not really true at all.

While sleep is an individual thing and some children need more than others, giving your child a strong bedtime routine is important for their health, well-being and learning.

References: Murdoch Children's Research Institute National Sleep Foundation

Need help to manage your child’s sleep?

Kids First’s child psychologists can help you with strategies and routines that will give your child ( and you!) a good night’s rest. For an appointment to discuss your family’s needs, contact us at our clinic in Sydney’s northern beaches on (02) 9938 5419

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