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Healthy sleep is critical for a child’s well-being1 

Although most people know how important sleep is, getting enough sleep is a challenge. Lifestyle factors can complicate bedtime routines such as long workdays, sports schedules, or other commitments. While sleep needs will vary from person to person, sleep is critical for children to grow, learn, and play.

According to the Government of Canada, one in four Canadian children do not get enough sleep.2

In order to create and maintain healthy sleep patterns, it’s important to first understand what it means.

What is Healthy Sleep?3

  1. It is uninterrupted. It is ideal for a child to sleep throughout the night without being woken up by noise or light.
  2. It is sufficient. The amount of sleep needed can be generally defined by age, as shown in the table below. 
  3. It is in sync with a child’s internal clock. Our internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is our body's system that regulates sleepiness and wakefulness during a 24-hour period. It is most sensitive to light, which is why we are usually awake during the day and asleep at night.


Recommended Sleep Times

Infants (4 to 12 months old) 

12-16 hours 

Toddlers (1 to 2 years old)

11-14 hours 

Children (3 to 5 years old)

10-13 hours 

Children (6-12 years) 

9-12 hours

Teenagers (13-18 years old)

8-10 hours

Canadian Paediatric Society. (2017). Healthy sleep for your baby and child. Caring for kids.

Why Is Sleep Important for Children?4

Sleep is very important for a child’s brain development! Children that experience poor sleep quality are more likely to experience mood instability, memory and attention impairment, and poor impulse control. Essentially, when children do not sleep well, their brains have trouble efficiently processing information. With insufficient sleep, children struggle to remember what was learned during the day, and it becomes less likely that they will remember that information in the future. 

In addition, sleep influences children’s physical health. An unhealthy sleep pattern can lead to a compromised immune system and increase the risk of the development of diabetes and obesity. 

When children have healthy sleep patterns they can:

  • Be more creative
  • Have longer concentration on tasks
  • Have better problem-solving abilities
  • Be more able to make positive decisions
  • Be more able to learn and remember new things
  • Have more energy throughout the day
  • Initiate and maintain positive relationships with others

Sleep is just as important to health as nutrition and physical activity. Each child is different and may require a personalized approach to developing a healthy sleep pattern. For tips and tricks, visit: 

Click here for the pdfCHEERS healthy sleep checklist and child care napping tips!


  1. University of Houston. (2016, July 22). Lack of sleep increases a child's risk for emotional disorders later: NIH-funded study reveals long-term emotional effects of poor sleep. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 25, 2021 from  
  2. Government of Canada. (2018, April). Are Canadian children getting enough sleep? 
  3. Sleep Foundation. (2020, Sept 24). Children and Sleep
  4. Owens, J. A., Jones, C., Nash, R. (2011). Caregivers’ Knowledge, Behaviour, and Attitudes Regarding Healthy Sleep in Young Children. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 7(4), 345-350. DOI:10.5664/JCSM.1186