Get a Good Night’s Sleep

  • November 3, 2016

Sleep, and getting children to sleep well (and quickly and often!) is something that occupies a lot of parent’s thoughts. When a child is not getting enough sleep or is not sleeping well, the whole family is affected.

At Ethos, we regularly talk to families about their child’s sleep as it can impact their development, behaviour and learning. One of the things that we note is that many children do not go to bed until quite late each night and working with families to ensure that their child is getting enough sleep is one of the first steps in many of our programmes.

As children get older they do need less sleep, but this does vary. The following table is a guide to how much sleep is recommended for each age group, but a good indicator of whether your child is getting enough sleep at night is to observe how they act and function during the day.

Age Recommended May Be Appropriate Not Recommended

0-3 months

14 to 17 hours 11 to 13 hours

18 to 19 hours

Less than 11 hours

More than 19 hours


4-11 months

12 to 15 hours 10 to 11 hours

16 to 18 hours

Less than 10 hours

More than 18 hours


1-2 years

11 to 14 hours 9 to 10 hours

15 to 16 hours

Less than 9 hours

More than 16 hours


2-5 years

10 to 13 hours 8 to 9 hours

14 hours

Less than 8 hours

More than 14 hours

School-aged Children

6-13 years

9 to 11 hours 7 to 8 hours

12 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 12 hours


14-17 years

8 to 10 hours 7 hours

11 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 11 hours

Young Adults

18-25 years

7 to 9 hours 6 hours

10 to 11 hours

Less than 6 hours

More than 11 hours


The above sleep duration recommendations are based on a report of an expert panel convened by the US based National Sleep Foundation and published in 2015 in their journal Sleep Health.

If you are having problems getting your child to sleep well here are five tips that can help.

  1. Establish a regular sleep pattern: regular hours of sleep are important and will help your child understand when it is time to sleep and result in a better sleep. Bed times and wake times should not vary by more than an hour between school and non-school days.
  2. Have a consistent bed time routine: it is good to have the same routine before bed each night as it will help prepare your child for sleep. Quiet activities such as reading a book or being read to or having a bath or shower are good before bed. Outside play, active games, being on the internet, mobiIe phone, social networking, computer games or television should all be stopped at least a half hour before bed.
  3. The bedroom is for sleeping: the bedroom should be a quiet, comfortable and dark room used for sleeping. A night light can be used if your child needs, but items that could distract your child such as, televisions, computers, and mobile phones should be kept out of the bedroom. Mae sure that your child sees the bedroom as a good place to be. It should not be used as a place for punishment.
  4. Take care with daytime naps: it is normal for young children to nap during the day, but as your child gets older they will need less sleep and naps. The number and length of naps depends on your child. Except for very young children, naps after 4pm can make it harder for children to fall asleep at night.
  5. Exercise and time outside: daily exercise is an important part of healthy living and also promotes good sleep. Time spent in bright daylight does the same thing. Outdoor exercise is therefore a great way to promote good sleep. However, it is best to steer clear of heavy exercise in the hour before sleep.

Anita North is a Psychologist and Director of Ethos. Anita has an Australian Psychological Society Practice Certificate in Sleep Psychology.

If you would like more information on sleep or the services we provide to support children with sleep difficulties please contact Anita on