The length of time children sleep must change with age


Sleep Health | Sleep Review

CNN speaks to several medical experts about how sleep needs evolve as children get older.

How many hours you need is not that simple, said Dr. Raj Dasgupta, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Department of Lung, Intensive Care, and Sleep Medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. The need for sleep is very individualized, he said, but the general recommendation – the “sweet spot” – is to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. However, recommendations change with age.

“Sleep needs vary throughout life,” says Christina Chick, a postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University.

If babies feel like they sleep all day, they pretty much are. In the first year of life, babies can sleep 17 to 20 hours a day, Dasgupta said. According to Chick, infants aged 4 to 12 months need 12 to 16 hours of sleep, including napping.

“When kids go through puberty, of course, they prefer to go to sleep later and wake up later,” Chick said. “That is why the starting times of school are such an important point of discussion: If you can only fall asleep later, but the start of school remains the same, you will sleep less.”

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