When do children have to go to sleep?

Healthy sleep patterns are essential for most people. Not getting enough sleep can often have dramatic health consequences. But too much sleep can also make you feel bad.

The way children sleep and how long they sleep are also of particular importance, especially in infants and preschoolers. But how much sleep does a baby really need?

How Long Do Children Sleep: How Much Sleep Do They Really Need?

All parents know that babies need a lot of sleep. From two to three years of age, toddlers sleep an average of 12 to 13 hours a day. But the little ones do not sleep right away, but spread out over all the times of the day and night.

However, children’s need for sleep drops dramatically over the next few months and years. Babies three or four years old 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 children are not yet able to tell day from night and therefore are asleep all the time. However, as soon as they perceive the change and experience an orderly daily routine, the need for daytime sleep is significantly reduced.

After just 2 years, many babies no longer need a nap

Therefore, newborns have around five to six sleep phases, where they sleep for around four hours at a time. However, after just a few months, sleep phases are reduced to just three phases a day: one longer at night and two short during the day.

By the age of a year and a half, most children ‘s need for daytime sleep has dropped to a daytime nap, and some children may not need a daytime nap after just two years, according to the Children’s Health initiative by the Federal Center for Health Education.

Children’s sleep patterns also change significantly during the night during the first few years. From eight hours in newborns to an amazing 12 hours in the first year of life. However, from the twelfth month, this nighttime sleep decreases again, as babies usually need less sleep.

In the first year: children’s sleep time at night increases to 12 hours

But beware: this does not mean babies sleep all night, but the length of all sleep phases during the night!

A study by the University Children’s Hospital of Zurich found that by the age of six, children’s sleep requirements drop to around eleven hours a day.

Since everyone is different and all children have their own individual needs, it is also true that each child has different sleep requirements.

Individual bedtime required for each child

Therefore, you should let your baby guide himself when it is time to regulate bedtime or naps.

When your baby should go to sleep depends on when to get up and on the baby’s individual sleeping needs. If the baby is always at the parent’s door at 6 a.m. and needs eleven hours of sleep, it should go to bed by 7 p.m. at the latest.

However, it should be noted here whether the child still needs a nap or a long sleep, then the bedtime should be adjusted accordingly.

Sleep diary to regulate your sleep needs

A sleep diary can help you determine if your baby’s bedtime needs to be adjusted or is not napping. The parents write down their baby’s daily sleeping habits for several weeks and then adjust their bedtime accordingly.

While some babies may not need a true sleep period during the day, many still need time to fully unwind in the afternoon. This should definitely be taken into account if you missed your afternoon nap.

However, if you find that your baby is very exhausted and tired during the day, you can of course reintroduce the afternoon nap. This is primarily to ensure that the little ones do not have problems falling asleep and falling asleep in the evening.

Different types of sleep: does it already exist in childhood?

As with adults, various types of sleep can be categorized as early as childhood. There is definitely a hereditary need for sleep, which means that even babies sleep very long at an early age.

But even short sleepers are not a direct cause for concern, the individual needs of children 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 they shouldn’t worry too much if not all children need the same amount of sleep. If there are any particular irregularities, it is always a good idea to consult an expert.

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