Sleep is important for growth, immunity, learning and memory. Babies, children and teenagers need different amounts of sleep. Sleep patterns change as babies and children get older. We all move through cycles of deep and light sleep throughout the night.Why is sleep importantSleep restores children physically. It helps them learn and remember things, and it boosts immunity. And sleep helps children grow. For example, children’s bodies produce growth hormone when they’re asleep. Children often need more sleep at times of rapid growth.
Children of all ages need to get enough sleep so they can play, learn and concentrate during the day.Sleep at different agesBabies, children and teenagers need different amounts of sleep.
Also, sleep patterns change as babies and children get older. For example, as babies grow, they begin to sleep less during the day and more at night. And children generally need less sleep as they grow older.
Children’s sleep needs and patterns vary, so the information below is just a guide. Your child’s sleep might be different.Babies under 6 months: when and how much they sleep
Newborns sleep on and off during the day and night. They sleep for 14-17 hours every 24 hours.
They have two different kinds of sleep – active sleep and quiet sleep. In active sleep your baby moves around. You might see jerking, twitching or sucking. In quiet sleep your baby is still and breathing evenly.
Newborns move through active and quiet sleep in cycles that last about 50-60 minutes. They might wake up after a sleep cycle and need help getting back to sleep.
Babies 3-6 months
By three months, babies start to develop night and day sleep patterns, and they tend to start sleeping more during the night. Babies usually sleep for 12-15 hours every 24 hours.
Babies 6-12 months: when and how much they sleep
Sleep during the night
As babies develop, more of their sleep happens at night.
At this age, most babies are ready for bed between 6 pm and 10 pm. They usually take less than 40 minutes to get to sleep, but about 1 in 10 babies takes longer.
Babies might be having long sleeps of six hours at night by the time they’re six months old.
Almost two-thirds of babies wake only once during the night and need an adult to settle them back to sleep. About 1 in 10 babies calls out 3-4 times a night.
More than a third of parents say their babies have problems with sleep at this age.
Sleep during the day
Most babies aged 6-12 months are still having daytime naps. These naps usually last 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Some babies are difficult to settle or wake a lot at night. A positive bedtime routine can help your baby settle to sleep.
Phasing out sleep habits like rocking baby to sleep can also make it more likely baby will settle themselves when they wake in the night. But if you’re happy to resettle your baby each time they wake during the night, that’s just fine.
Toddlers: when and how much they sleepToddlers need 11-14 hours of sleep every 24 hours. Usually this is a sleep of 10-12 hours a night, and a nap of 1-2 hours during the day.
Some toddlers aren’t keen on going to bed at night. Often this is because they’d like to stay up with the family. This is the most common sleep problem reported by parents. It peaks around 18 months and improves with age.
Less than 5% of two-year-olds wake three or more times overnight.Preschoolers: when and how much they sleep
About sleep cyclesWe all cycle between different types of sleep during the night and also during long naps.
From about six months of age, a sleep cycle contains:
In REM sleep, your eyeballs flicker from side to side underneath your eyelids. REM sleep is also called dream sleep.
Non-REM sleep consists of deep sleep and light sleep. It’s difficult to wake a child in deep sleep. Children in light sleep wake up easily.
The amount of REM and non-REM sleep in a cycle changes throughout the night.
How sleep cycles affect children's sleep
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