How much sleep is normal?

Wednesday, 16 March 2016  | 

Most toddlers sleep about 12 hours by the age of three. At this age they can have difficulty in falling or staying asleep. They can fight sleep because they don’t like the separation from their parents. They often have a favourite toy, dummy or rag to help them sleep, while a night light helps those who are afraid of the dark.

Children aged four to six tend to sleep between 10½ to 11½ hours at night, and almost all children of this age have some difficulty in sleeping. They may resist going to bed, may wake up in the night. They are often scared of the dark, and may wet the bed and even sleepwalk. Again, a routine helps, together with reassurance and support - without over-dramatising the issue.

Children aged six to 12 sleep for around 10 hours a night. They tend to have sleep problems more akin to adults - worries often to do with school, friends or family. Nightmares are more unusual by this age. Again, a routine is reassuring.

Most teenagers need around eight - nine hours sleep, but many get far less than this, which can cause immediate health problems, and potentially serious implications for future academic success. Teenagers have a difficult time of it - the onset of puberty, exams, money, the future - it’s really no wonder that they don’t get as much sleep as they need.