- 3 mins
Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep? Age-Appropriate Bedtimes for Kids
Here at Moshi, we take all things “sleep” very seriously. The ample choice of bedtime stories in our app should prove that. As a parent, you always look out for your child and want what is best for them. You may be wondering if your kids are getting enough sleep or what age-appropriate bedtime you should be instilling. To better understand how sleep works, you should familiarize yourself with the circadian rhythm.
What is your circadian rhythm?
The circadian rhythm is the body’s natural way of regulating the day-night cycle. It is controlled by the hypothalamus, which is located in the brain. The circadian rhythm regulates many bodily functions, including sleep, wakefulness, metabolism, and hormone production. It’s dictated by the rise and fall of the sun. The hypothalamus signals the body to be awake and alert when it is light outside. When it is dark outside, the hypothalamus signals the body to start producing the hormone melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy.
Most people can stay on a 24-hour cycle, but some struggle with maintaining a regular sleep schedule. This can be due to work schedules, jet lag, or other factors. When the body’s natural circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can lead to fatigue, insomnia, and other health problems. For example, the circadian rhythm changes during puberty due to the increased production of hormones. The increased production of hormones makes the body more sensitive to light and dark. This causes the body to produce more of the hormone melatonin, which makes the body feel tired.
Research by UCLA confirmed that in addition to the added sensitivity, during puberty, our circadian rhythm shifts about two hours ahead, meaning that instead of feeling sleepy between 8 and 9 PM, teenagers only start to feel sleepy between 9 and 11 PM. To put this into perspective, to expect a teenager to go to sleep at 9 PM is comparable to an adult to go to bed at 7 PM, and why should we expect them to be happy and cheerful when waking up at 6 AM is the equivalent of us waking up at 4 AM.
Age-appropriate bedtimes for kids:
The amount of sleep a child needs depends on their age. Bedtimes by age will also differ, and we will look into that shortly. It is often said that children need anywhere from 10 to 12 hours of sleep a day. But research shows that during the course of our lives, the required amounts of sleep vary, particularly during our developmental years. The recommended doses of sleep for children, according to the National Sleep Foundation, are as follows:
Newborns (0-3 months):
Newborns usually sleep around the clock for a total of about 16 to 18 hours. This sleep is crucial for their physical, mental, and emotional development.
Infants (4-11 months):
Most infants sleep between 11 and 14 hours daily. At this age, they usually sleep the longest at night and take two or three naps during the day.
Toddlers (1-2 years):
Toddlers need about 12 hours of sleep a day, including a nap or two.
Preschoolers (3-5 years):
Preschoolers need about 10 to 13 hours of sleep daily, including a nap.
School-aged children (6-13 years):
School-aged children need about 9 to 11 hours of sleep a day.
Teens (14-17 years):
Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep daily.
Regarding age-appropriate bedtimes, depending on your kid’s routine, the recommendation below may need to be adjusted. However, we found that the list below works for most families:
- 0-2 years old: should go to sleep between 8:00 and 9:00 pm
- 3-5 years old: should go to sleep between 7:00 and 8:00 pm
- 6-12 years old: should go to sleep between 7:30 and 8:30 pm
- 13-18 years old: should go to sleep around 10:00 pm. Bare in mind that once puberty hits, it will be difficult for teenagers to fall asleep until around 11 pm
Again, the list above is a mere guideline for bedtimes by age, factor in at what time your kid will need to wake up to get ready for the day. While knowing how many hours your children need to sleep is simple, convincing a toddler that it is bedtime is an entirely different matter. Parents know all too well how each developmental stage offers a new set of challenges for bedtime. Here are some tips to aid you on this quest.
Bedtime tips and tricks:
Establish a bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible
A warm bath followed by some quiet time can help babies and toddlers wind down before sleep. As your child gets older this process will start to shift, however, its change is gradual and unlikely to interfere with your routine.
Keep the bedroom dark and quiet
If your child is still awake, try sitting with them in the dark until they fall asleep. Nighlights are helpful if your child is frightened by the dark. Research by Alaasam et al. says that red and orange are better colors. Despite blue and green still being considered relaxing tones, these colors appear to interfere with our brains’ ability to produce melatonin.
Avoid letting your child fall asleep on the breast or bottle
This can create a dependency and make it harder for them to learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own.
Get them acquainted with their bed
If your child is resistant to sleeping in their own bed, start by placing them in their crib or bed for short periods while awake. Gradually increase their time in bed until they fall asleep there.
Avoid screens for at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
In this older article, we touched upon the reasons why it is best to avoid screen before bedtime.
While the daily meditation and mindfulness tracks are very useful for kids, the night department is where Moshi shows its full potential. It’s packed to the brim with magical bedtime stories for kids, sleep meditations, night sounds, and music.
Read, create and/or listen to bedtime stories
Bedtime stories are another powerful tool not only to bond with your kid but also to help turn the bedtime routine into a positive and memorable experience. Yes, Moshi has a selection of bedtime stories for kids to choose from, but in a recent article, we looked at how to tell a great bedtime story.
Now that we have covered recommended sleep time and age-appropriate bedtimes for kids, I hope you feel you have enough information to answer the opening question: Is your child getting enough sleep? Now, remember that parenting is a pretty tough gig and that reading this article shows you are committed to being the best parent you can be, so be patient, especially with yourself, trust your instincts and enjoy the journey.
Alaasam VJ, Duncan R, Casagrande S, Davies S, Sidher A, Seymoure B, Shen Y, Zhang Y, Ouyang JQ. Light at night disrupts nocturnal rest and elevates glucocorticoids at cool color temperatures. J Exp Zool A Ecol Integr Physiol. 2018 Oct;329(8-9):465-472. doi: 10.1002/jez.2168. Epub 2018 May 15. PMID: 29766666; PMCID: PMC6205889.