ChildrenSleep (Insomnia)

How much sleep do children need?

There’s a common belief that children don’t get enough sleep.

Researchers at the University of South Australia, in Adelaide, described historical trends in recommended and actual sleep durations for children and adolescents.

First, the details.

  • 32 sets of recommendations were located dating from 1897 to 2009.

And, the results.

  • There’s a lack of evidence supporting sleep recommendations.
  • On average, age-specific recommended sleep decreased at the rate of -0.71 minute per year.
  • This rate of decline was almost identical to the decline in the actual sleep duration of children (-0.73 minute per year).
  • Recommended sleep was consistently about 37 minutes greater than actual sleep, although both declined over time.

The bottom line?

How much sleep to children need?

We don’t know for sure.

The authors concluded, “Inadequate sleep was seen as a consequence of ‘modern life,’ associated with technologies of the time. No matter how much sleep children are getting, it has always been assumed that they need more.”

2/13/12 20:31 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.