Healthy sleep patterns are essential for most people. Not getting enough sleep can often have dramatic health consequences. But too much sleep can also put you in a bad mood.
Children’s sleeping behavior and duration of sleep are also particularly important, especially in infancy and preschool. But how much sleep does a child really need?
How long do children sleep: How much sleep do they really need?
All parents know that babies need a lot of sleep. At the age of two to three, young children sleep on average up to 12 to 13 hours a day. But the little ones do not sleep at once, but distributed at all times of the day and night.
But children’s need for sleep drops drastically over the next few months and years. Children aged three or four usually only need eleven to twelve hours of sleep a day.
In particular, the need for daytime sleep is much lower here than in infants. The reason for this is that babies are not yet able to know the difference between day and night and therefore sleep all the time. But as soon as they perceive the change and experience a structured everyday life, the need for sleep during the day is significantly reduced.
After just 2 years, many children no longer need a nap
Newborns therefore have about five to six sleep phases, where they sleep about four hours at a time. After just a few months, however, the sleep phases are reduced to only three phases a day: one longer at night and two short ones during the day.
At the age of one and a half, most children’s need for daytime sleep has dropped to a nap, and some children may do without a nap after just two years, according to the “Children’s Health” initiative from the Federal Center for Health Education.
During the first few years, children’s sleep patterns also change markedly at night. From eight hours in newborns to a full 12 hours the first year. From the twelfth month, however, this night’s sleep falls again, as the children then generally need a little less sleep.
In the first year: Children’s night sleep increases to 12 hours
But beware: this does not mean that children sleep all night, but the duration of all nocturnal sleep phases!
A study from the University Children’s Hospital in Zurich showed that children’s need for sleep drops to around eleven hours a day when they turn six.
Since all people are different and children all have their own individual needs, it also applies here that each child has different sleep needs.
Individual bedtimes are required for individual children
Therefore, you should let your child guide you when to regulate bedtime or nap.
When a child should go to bed depends on the time it gets up and the child’s individual sleep needs. If a child is always at the parents’ door at 6 in the morning and needs eleven hours of sleep, it must sleep no later than kl.
However, it should be noted here whether the child still needs a nap or a long time to fall asleep, then bedtime should be adjusted accordingly.
Sleep log to regulate sleep needs
A sleep log can help determine if the baby’s bedtime needs to be adjusted or if they are willing to give up naps. Parents write down their child’s daily sleeping habits for a few weeks and then adjust the bedtime accordingly.
While some children may not need a proper period of sleep during the day, many still need a time when they can completely relax in the afternoon. This should definitely be considered if the afternoon nap is skipped.
However, if you find that the child is very exhausted and tired during the day, you can of course reintroduce the afternoon nap. This primarily serves to prevent the little ones from having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night.
Different types of sleep: does this already exist in childhood?
As with adults, you can categorize different types of sleep already in childhood. There is definitely a hereditary need for sleep, which means that even children at an early age sleep very long.
But even short sleep is not a direct cause for concern, children’s individual needs also play a role here: Some simply need less sleep than other children.
All in all, it can be said that parents should definitely pay attention to bedtime and above all to their children’s individual sleep needs, but not worry too much if not all children need the same amount of sleep. If there are particular abnormalities, it is always a good idea to consult an expert.