How much sleep do preschoolers and big kids need?

preschooler sleeping
Photo credit: Thinkstock

You know your child doesn't need as much sleep as they did when they were a baby, but how much is enough? Every child is different – some need more sleep and some need less. But here are general guidelines for the average number of hours of sleep a child needs over a 24-hour period.

Keep in mind that most kids need a lot of sleep – usually more than parents allow for. Sleep expert Jodi Mindell, author of Sleeping Through the Night, says that if a child has poor sleep habits or refuses to nap or go to bed before 10 at night, their parents often assume they just don't need much sleep. That's probably not the case – it's more likely that such a child is actually sleep deprived, resulting in hyper, overtired behavior at bedtime.

Advertisement | page continues below

If you think your child may be sleep deprived, ask yourself:

  • Does my child frequently fall asleep while riding in the car?
  • Do I have to wake them almost every morning?
  • Do they seem cranky, irritable, or overtired during the day?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child may not be getting as much sleep as their body needs. To change this pattern, you'll need to help them develop good sleep habits, like developing a consistent bedtime routine, setting an appropriate bedtime, and sticking to both every night.

A preschooler or kindergartner who has outgrown napping needs a solid 10 to 13 hours of sleep each night, an amount that will gradually decrease as they get older. By the time they're about 14, your child will need eight to 10 hours of shut-eye.

Advertisement | page continues below
Follow your baby's amazing development

BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

Sleep Foundation. 2022. Teens and Sleep. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Nemours Foundation. 2021. Kids and Sleep. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Nemours Foundation. 2020. Naps. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Sleep Foundation. 2022. Children and Sleep. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Karen Miles
Karen Miles is a writer and an expert on pregnancy and parenting who has contributed to BabyCenter for more than 20 years. She's passionate about bringing up-to-date, useful information to parents so they can make good decisions for their families. Her favorite gig of all is being "Mama Karen" to four grown children and "Nana" to nine grandkids.