Why a Regular Sleep Schedule Matters

Getting the right amount of sleep each night helps people think clearly and feel their best. Even though many people understand the importance of sleep, more than 30% of adults in the United States get less than seven hours of sleep each night. 

To get the full benefits of sleep, experts recommend focusing on developing healthy sleep habits. One of the most important sleep habits is keeping to a person’s sleep schedule. Learn about the importance of a sleep schedule, the best sleep schedule for different age groups, and how to stick to a consistent bedtime routine. 

The Importance of a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule helps you get the right amount of sleep for your unique needs. Going to sleep and waking up at the same times every day, even on holidays and weekends, can make it easier to fall asleep quickly at night. It can also help you wake up on time and feel refreshed in the morning.

Optimizing your sleep schedule to get the right amount of sleep comes with a wide range of benefits. Getting enough rest helps you get sick less often and maintain a healthy weight. Staying well-slept also puts you at a lower risk of chronic health issues like heart disease and diabetes.

Getting enough sleep also benefits your mental health by lowering stress, improving your mood, and helping you concentrate at school or work. And avoiding sleep deprivation lowers your risk of drowsy driving, a dangerous habit that contributes to nearly 100,000 car accidents each year.

Sleep Schedules By Age 

The amount of sleep you need depends on various factors, including your age, health, lifestyle, and what amount of sleep leaves you feeling your best. In general, children and teenagers require more sleep than adults. 

Sleep Schedules for Newborns, Infants, and Toddlers

Newborn sleep schedules should allow for 14 to 17 hours of sleep each day. Newborns sleep in cycles that continue both at night and during the day, often sleeping for an hour or two before staying awake from one to three hours. Newborns’ daily sleep needs continue to change as they grow into infants and toddlers.

  • Newborns: Newborns from 0 to 3 months old need 14 to 17 hours of sleep each day.
  • Infants: From 4 to 11 months old, infants need 12 to 15 hours of sleep every day.
  • Toddlers: Toddlers from 12 to 24 months need 11 to 14 hours of sleep each day.

Around 4 to 6 weeks old, newborns may begin to sleep for four hours at a time before spending about four hours awake. Infants usually begin to transition to a day-night sleep schedule when they are about 4 to 6 months old. Between the age of 9 months and their first birthday, toddlers may begin to sleep eight or nine hours consecutively through the night.

Sleep Schedules for Children

Regular and predictable bedtime routines help young children fall asleep earlier in the evening, doze off more quickly, and wake up less often at night. A young child’s caregivers also sleep better if they accompany their child through a nightly routine.

Children’s sleep schedules shift as they continue to grow and develop.

  • Preschool-aged children: From 3 to 5 years old, children require 10 to 13 hours of sleep each night.
  • School-aged children: Children aged 6 to 12 years old require 9 to 11 hours of nighttime sleep.

Keeping these sleep needs in mind can be helpful when setting a child’s bedtime.

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