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Sleep schedules, routines & habits

Published  1 May 2016

Recommended Sleep Time Duration

Age Group Hours per Day
Recommended May be Appropriate*
(≤3 months)
14 17 11 19
(4‑11 months)
12 15 10 18
(1‑2 years)
11 14 9 16
(3‑5 years)
10 13 8 14
School Age
(6‑13 years)
9 11 7 12
(14‑17 years)
8 10 7 11
Young Adults
(18‑25 years)
7 9 6 11
(26‑64 years)
7 9 6 10
Older Adults
(≥65 years)
7 8 5 9
Source: National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 2015
*The NSF recommended against sleep time duration outside of the May be Appropriate range.
Note: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2016) made similar sleep time duration recommendations: 12-16 hours for infants, 11-14 hours for toddlers, 10-13 hours for preschoolers, 9-12 hours for 6-12 year olds, and 8-10 hours for 13-18 year olds.

Screen Time

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that all screens be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime and that TVs, computers and other screens not be allowed in children’s bedrooms.

Bedtime Routines

Bedtime routines can often be helpful to anyone of any age—obviously, the components of the routine will differ for a young child and an adult. Focus on making bedtime a positive and relaxing experience without screens (see sample routine below).

  • Take a bath.
  • A quick tidy-up of the bedroom.
  • Prepare tomorrow’s necessities (e.g., clothes, backpack, lunch, etc.)
  • Brush hair and teeth.
  • Go to the bathroom.
  • Read a story.
  • Say goodnight and leave.

Bedtime Habits

Bedtime routines can often be bolstered by habits that support sleep. Consider for yourself whether some of these ideas might be helpful:

  • Get up and go to bed at the same times everyday. Eat meals, do homework, and have activities at times that support being ready on time for bedtime.
  • Have physical activity during the day, and not too close to bedtime.
  • Save your child’s favorite non-stimulating activities for the bedtime routine.
  • At the beginning of the bedtime routine, dim any bright lights, and maintain a comfortably cool and fairly quiet environment (i.e., experts recommend about 65°F, depending on bedding and bed clothes).
  • Use blinds or curtains to block bright lights outside the bedroom window.
  • Place a night light in the bathroom so that a bright light does not need to be used at night.
  • Keep a water bottle or cup in a convenient place, such as a nightstand or bathroom.
  • Keep from getting cold and shivering, especially in winter, by wearing socks or using an extra blanket at the foot of the bed.
  • Keep from getting hot and sweaty, especially in summer, by wearing light-weight pajamas or sleeping without pyjamas.
  • Keep a reasonable level of quiet in the bedroom or use a white-noise machine, such as the Dohm sold at YogaSleep.com, Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Target.
  • Decorate the bedroom in a way that’s relaxing and comforting.
  • Use the bed only for sleep (and, as age-appropriate, masterbation or sex). Find other places to text, watch TV, use a tablet or computer, do work or homework, eat, or cuddle with pets.
  • Eliminate caffeine consumption after the morning (e.g., coffee, caffeinated soda, energy drinks, etc.).
  • Let go of concerns (e.g., make a to-do list for tomorrow, make a list of gratitudes for today, practice meditation, etc.)
  • If the pillow, mattress, sheets, blankets, or clothing are uncomfortable, replace them.

For serious or persistent sleep problems, seek support from a mental health professional.

Health Habits