How to create a healthy sleep environment for your child

There’s nothing more comforting for a parent than hearing the calm, regular breathing of their sleeping child – especially if they’ve been running you ragged all day.

But how much sleep do children need? And how do you make sure the ‘scene is set’ for a good night’s sleep?

How much sleep do children really need?

Getting enough quality sleep is essential for children to recharge, learn and remember. The quality and quantity of sleep has a huge impact on their behaviour and their emotional well-being.

Establishing good sleeping habits for your child is one of the most important building blocks for good health.

Here are the recommended number of hours of sleep that children need:

Up to 12 Months Old

14 - 15 hours per day

1-3 Years Old

12 - 14 hours per day

3-6 Years Old

10 - 12 hours per day

7-12 Years Old

10 - 11 hours per day

12-18 Years Old

8 - 9 hours per day


8 Tips for creating the perfect environment for your child’s sleep

  1. Create a calm, soothing atmosphere. Reading a story to younger children is a wonderful way of sharing that special time of the day. Listening to CDs or doing some relaxation exercises can also help calm them right down.
  2. Keep the lights down low. As a rule, it’s best to avoid any light disturbance. Some children feel more comfortable with a dim nightlight, but generally a darkened room is ideal for sleeping.
  3. Safe and sound. Younger children need to feel safe in bed. Before they settle down for their night’s sleep, they might need their door left open a little to reassure them that you’re not far away.
  4. Keep it cool. A room that’s cool, but not cold, is the most comfortable temperature for sleeping. It’s usually advisable to avoid extremes, so not too hot and not too cold.
  5. Minimise noise. In a busy household, it can be hard to tip-toe around a sleeping child. However, it’s best to keep the noise levels low to help your child relax into sleep. If you live in a noisy neighbourhood, playing some calming music can help block out unwanted sounds.
  6. Fresh air is best. The quality of air in your child’s room can affect the quality of their sleep, so ensure their room is well-ventilated.
  7. A comfortable pillow and mattress can make a difference. Just as adults need to feel supported in bed, a good quality pillow and mattress can also increase the quality of a child’s sleep.

For the under 2’s, experts recommend no pillow at all. For older children, take care that your child’s neck is gently supported by a pillow that’s not too high.

At SleepX, we recommend a contoured, low-profile pillow. This style should cradle your child’s head and neck and keep their spine in alignment. A child’s comfort needs should also be taken into consideration, but generally we find that a softer mattress is more popular among kids. As with adults, it’s important that the mattress offers both comfort and support for growing bodies.

Some children may be allergic to feathers, so it’s best to choose a pillow and mattress that’s hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial.

And of course, it’s advisable to wash your sheets and pillowcases weekly. Investing in a mattress protector and a washable, easy-to-remove pillow cover can keep your child’s bedding fresh.

  1. Limit the use of devices in the bedroom. There’s been a lot of attention paid to the number of hours children spend staring at screens. For many parents, it’s a losing battle. But research has shown that it’s essential that kids shut down their electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime. This prevents the blue-light emitted from their screen from interfering with the release of melatonin. Melatonin is important for maintaining our ‘body clock’ and is essential for a restful sleep.

You might like to read our earlier blog on sleep and technology.