Is my child getting enough sleep?

Anita Bennett-Stewart

Anita Bennett-Stewart

Behavioural Sleep Specialist & Behaviour Consultant

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When a child is not sleeping well, the whole family’s sleep can be affected. “Good” sleep is not just indicative of the quality of a child’s sleep, but also the quantity of sleep. It is important for children to receive the recommended amount of sleep for their age. 

 

To identify how much sleep your child is currently receiving:

  1. Calculate the difference between their sleep time and wake time
  2. Add the length of time of any daytime naps
  3. Subtract the length of time that your child is awake overnight, if they wake

 

Every person is different, and therefore their sleep needs are different as well. The Sleep Health Foundation 1 provides general guidelines for how much sleep people should receive. Check out a helpful table on how much sleep is recommended below:

Sleep Health Foundation (2015)
For preschoolers aged 3 to 5 years old it is generally recommended that they receive between 10 to 13 hours of sleep each day, although as little as 8 hours and as many as 14 hours may be appropriate. 1  As we age, our sleep needs change and the length of our sleep reduces. For example, children aged between 6 and 13 years old are recommended to receive between 9 and 11 hours per night and this continues to reduce until adulthood.  Secondly, how often we sleep changes as we age. Children under around 4 years old will nap throughout the daytime, whereas from school age it is no longer appropriate for people to regularly nap throughout the day. Lastly, the timing of our sleep changes across our lifespan. Teenagers fall asleep later and wake up later than adults. 2 Although this is commonly attributed to ‘laziness’, it is actually due to a change in their circadian rhythm. Teenagers become biologically inclined to sleep later and wake later, and then in adulthood this sleep schedule shifts again to become earlier. In this way, our biology changes our sleep needs over our lives. It is important to note that a child may need to receive more than the minimum recommended hours of sleep for their age. If you are unsure if your child may need more sleep, some helpful questions to consider are:
  1. Is your child waking feeling refreshed?
  2. Is your child waking without an alarm or being woken up?
  3. Is your child remaining awake throughout the day without naps, when naps are no longer appropriate for their age?
If the answer to any of the above is ‘no’ or if your child is showing persistent signs of daytime tiredness, your child may need more sleep. A pediatrician, GP or sleep specialist may be able to provide more individualised advice on how best to support your child with their sleep concerns. Resources:
  1. www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/files/pdfs/Sleep-Needs-Across-Lifespan.pdf 
  2. https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/teenage-sleep.html 

Disclaimer: The advice in this article is general in nature. If your child experiences sleep difficulties, reach out to a trusted professional for further individualised advice and support.

0422 457 363

9/56 Buffalo Rd, Gladesville NSW , 2111

0422 457 363

9/56 Buffalo Rd, Gladesville NSW , 2111

Super Kids acknowledges each individual’s personal preference to use identity-first or person-first language to describe themselves or their loved one. We interchangeably use both language conventions and therefore refer to both autistic children and children with autism.