Ask a Pediatrician: Does My Child Need More Sleep?

Dr. Jeremy Friedman, chief of pediatric medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, answers your pressing questions about your child's health

Photography by Jard Shelburne, via Flickr (CC)

Q: My seven-year-old son seems to still require a nap after school. He gets about nine hours of sleep most nights. Should I get him checked out? Do some kids just need more sleep?

A: No, and yes. Yes, some kids need more sleep, and no, it’s not necessary to have him checked out just yet. Between the ages of six and 12 years, an average child will sleep approximately 10 to 11 hours per night, gradually declining to just over nine hours by age 12. There should be no need for napping during the day, but just like me, he seems to not be getting enough sleep at nighttime, hence his need to catch up during the day. Your options are either to let him wake later or make his bedtime earlier (if practical) in order to give him the average 10 to 11 hours of sleep. As long as he is not having trouble getting up in the morning, complaining of being tired, lacking attention span or motivation or acting drowsy and yawning frequently during school, then he probably is getting adequate sleep by compensating with his early evening nap.

Looking for more? Here are 9 ways to help your family get more sleep tonight.

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