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Sleep through the Ages

September 05, 2014

Sleep through the Ages

Sleep is such an essential part of a healthy life that countless studies have been done on the adverse effects of too little sleep, interrupted sleep or even low quality sleep caused by disorders such as sleep apnea or anxiety and depression. A lot of babies’ brain development takes place while they are sleeping, and encouraging good sleeping habits from a young age can ensure that children fare better at school and in later life. But how much sleep is really necessary for good brain function? Well it really depends on your age. See our handy little table below to see how much sleep is necessary for you and your family.

Age Sleep at night Sleep in the day
0 - 4 months 8 - 9 hours (frequent wakings) 8 - 9 hours (frequent naps)
4 - 6 months 8 - 12 hours (some sleep through) 5 - 7 hours (2 - 3 naps)
6 - 12 months 10 - 12 hours 2 - 4 hours (2 naps)
12 - 18 months 11 - 12 hours 2 - 3 hours (1 - 2 naps)
18 - 24 months 11 hours 2 hours (1 nap)
2 - 3 years 10 hours 1 - 2 hours (1 nap)
3 - 5 years 10 - 12 hours
0 - 1 hours (1 nap)
5 - 12 years 10 - 11 hours
Teenagers 9 - 10 hours
Adults including elderly people 7 - 8 hours (should be uninterrupted) Optional

Sleep table for sleep through the ages

Instilling good sleep habits in your children

Baby’s sleep patterns are fairly universal and most babies will sleep when they are tired, provided they have a calm and comfortable place to sleep and whatever sleep aid they are used to falling asleep with (mom, blanket, dummy, or bottle). However, people’s opinions on nighttime routines vary widely, with some people taking their baby’s out at night to friend’s houses. If your baby is able to sleep in any place at night then it’s probably ok to be flexible with your routine, but if your social life is interfering with the time your baby goes to bed, it’s time to cut back and put your baby’s routine first or ask a baby sitter to come around. Babies and toddlers should be in bed by 9pm at the very latest.

Children are more susceptible to developing bad sleeping habits than their younger counterparts. Ensure you stick to an evening routine: bath, dinner, teeth, story time and bed by 9:30 (many parents prefer bedtime to be 8pm). Also ensure your children get at least 10 hours sleep, so if they need to wake up at seven, then bedtime should be 8:30 pm to allow them to fall asleep by 9 pm.

Sleeping Child

Instilling good sleep habits in your teenagers

Whatever they may tell you to the contrary, teenagers need only an hour’s sleep less than children, so you need to keep maintaining good sleeping habits until well into adulthood. Teenagers should also be encouraged to wind down before bed with a book or some soothing music and should get at least 9 hours sleep on school nights. In the weekend, you can be more flexible with bedtime and then let them sleep as long as they like in the mornings - it will be better for their performance at school and the housework can wait until they wake up.

Maintaining good sleep habits for yourself

Most adults are getting about one hour’s sleep too little. While your sleep habits may take a knock during your student days, it’s better for your health and your happiness to be strict about your bedtime, at least on work nights, going to bed at least 7 hours before you need to get up in the morning. If you tend to stay out late on weekends, try to make some time for naps during the days, or do restful activities as well.

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