Sleep in Preschoolers
What Can I Expect from my Preschooler?
ξ On average, preschoolers sleep between 11 to 12 hours out of the 24.
ξ Many children stop napping during the preschool years.
ξ Most preschoolers settle into a routine that is normal for them. Your child may
sleep more or less each day than her friend of the same age.
What are Some Common Sleep Problems for Preschoolers?
ξ Nighttime fears and bad dreams are common in preschoolers. Most often, they are
part of normal development and will get better with time.
ξ Sleepwalking and night terrors may first appear during the preschool years.
How Can I Help my Preschooler Sleep Well?
ξ Set up a regular schedule that leaves room for your child to get enough sleep.
ξ Plan your child’s bedtime for a time when he is usually sleepy. (Some children
may do better with a later or earlier bedtime than others.) It is generally best for
bedtime to happen before 9 pm.
ξ Follow a routine that is the same every night. Include calm activities like a bath
and a story. Avoid TV and computers as watching a video can make it harder to
fall asleep. If the last activity takes place where your child sleeps, “lights out”
time will happen naturally.
ξ It may help to make a chart showing all of the steps in your bedtime routine.
Your child can keep track and know what is coming next.
ξ Plan your child’s bedroom surroundings: Keep the temperature cool and the room
dark and quiet. Nightlights are fine. Computers or video gaming systems are not.
ξ Set limits: It is normal for preschoolers to stall at bedtime. Setting clear limits
will help keep things on track.
ξ Avoid caffeine (found in soda and energy drinks). It may cause your child to
wake up during the night.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
ξ Your child seems to have trouble breathing, snores, or is a noisy breather.
ξ You are concerned about your child’s nighttime waking or nighttime fears.
ξ Your child has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
ξ You are worried that your child’s sleep problems are affecting his behavior during
For more information on sleep in children, go to http://www.aap.org .
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call
if you have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with
your doctor. This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical
condition. Because each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on
your health care team when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911.
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