How many hours of sleep does a 6 year old need?

Getting enough sleep is crucial for a child’s growth and development. At age 6, children still need quite a bit of sleep to allow their bodies and minds to rest and recharge. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the recommended hours of sleep for 6 year olds, tips for establishing healthy sleep habits, and the consequences of not getting enough sleep at this age.

The Recommended Amount of Sleep for 6 Year Olds

Most health experts agree that school-aged children between the ages of 6 and 12 need 9-12 hours of sleep per night. For a typical 6 year old, the recommended amount falls in the middle of that range:

  • 10-11 hours per night

Of course, the exact number of hours needed can vary from child to child. Some kids may naturally need a bit more or less sleep. But in general, aiming for 10-11 hours ensures 6 year olds get sufficient rest for optimal health, growth and learning.

Nighttime Sleep

Out of the total recommended hours, most of a 6 year old’s sleep should come at night. Here are some guidelines for nighttime sleep:

  • Start bedtime between 7:30-8:30 pm
  • Aim for at least 10 hours of uninterrupted nighttime sleep
  • Establish a consistent bedtime routine

Setting an early bedtime allows children to get the deep, restorative sleep their bodies need at night. Ten continuous hours of sleep is ideal, but can be challenging with school, activities, etc. Try to prioritize consistency with bedtime. An established nightly routine signals to the body and mind that it’s time to wind down and relax.

Daytime Naps

In addition to nighttime slumber, some 6 year olds still benefit from a daytime nap. Naps can help make up for any lost hours of sleep. Guidelines include:

  • Most 6 year olds no longer need a daily nap
  • An occasional nap of 45-60 minutes can help if nighttime sleep wasn’t enough
  • Schedule naps earlier in the day, like after school
  • Naps too close to bedtime can interfere with nighttime sleep

While most children have stopped regularly napping by age 5, an occasional catnap can help boost alertness and concentration if a child didn’t get enough sleep. Just take care not to schedule naps too late in the day, as this can make it harder for them to fall asleep at bedtime.

Signs Your 6 Year Old Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep

How can you tell if your 6 year old is getting insufficient rest? Here are some common signs of sleep deprivation in 6 year olds:

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

  • Falling asleep in school
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Napping during the day
  • Acting drowsy during activities

If your child is having trouble keeping their eyes open during the day, it likely means they aren’t getting enough sleep at night. Fatigue and sleepiness during waking hours is a clear indicator of insufficient rest.

Behavior or Mood Changes

  • Increased irritability and tantrums
  • Hyperactivity and impulsiveness
  • Aggression or oppositional behavior
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of motivation

When children don’t get enough sleep, it can impact their mood, behavior and personality. Insufficient sleep is linked to increased hyperactivity, aggression, behavioral problems and difficulty regulating emotions in children. Watch for out-of-character behavior that could signal a lack of rest.

Trouble in School

  • Poor concentration during lessons
  • Difficulty recalling information
  • Declining academic performance
  • Inability to stay on task

Sleep is vital for learning and memory consolidation. Children who skimp on sleep often struggle to pay attention, absorb new material, concentrate and retain information. Look for new problems with focus, memory or school performance, which could reflect short sleep time.

Physical Symptoms

  • Lack of energy and stamina
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Clumsiness or coordination problems
  • Frequent illnesses or infections
  • Slowed or stunted growth

Insufficient sleep can manifest in physical ways too. Kids may seem tired, sluggish or clumsy. Sleep shortage can hinder immunity, growth, and motor development. Make sure to schedule a doctor’s visit if you notice any physical changes that could indicate a lack of sleep.

Difficulty Waking Up

  • Resisting morning wake up time
  • Requiring multiple waking prompts
  • Appearing groggy upon waking up

If your child struggles to wake up in the morning and resists getting out of bed, they likely aren’t getting enough hours of sleep. Difficulty waking up and shaking off drowsiness are telltale signs of insufficient rest at night.

Health Risks of Inadequate Sleep in 6 Year Olds

Logging enough nightly Zzz’s is pivotal for a child’s wellbeing and development. When 6 year olds don’t get sufficient sleep, it can have detrimental effects on their health in both the short and long term. Some impacts include:

Weakened Immune System

Sleep deprivation inhibits the production of cytokines, which help fight infection. Lack of sleep also reduces white blood cell counts. As a result, insufficient sleep weakens the immune system and increases the risk of catching communicable illnesses like colds, flu and other infections.

Impaired Brain Function

Deep, restorative sleep is necessary for children’s developing brains. Insufficient sleep hinders synapse formation needed for learning and memory. It also impairs cognition, focus, memory retention, and problem solving skills.

Behavior and Emotional Problems

Kids who don’t get adequate sleep face a higher likelihood of developing mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Insufficient sleep also contributes to behavioral issues like hyperactivity, aggression, and trouble with emotional regulation.

Weight Gain and Obesity

Lack of sleep alters hormone levels in the body that regulate hunger and satiety. Sleep deprivation is linked to increased appetite, food cravings, and risk of obesity in children.

Higher Injury Risk

Fatigue from poor sleep diminishes motor coordination and reaction time in children. This impairs physical abilities, hand-eye coordination, and balance, resulting in a higher risk of accidents and physical injuries.

Long Term Health Issues

Consistently not getting enough sleep can set children up for long term health consequences. These include diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, substance abuse, and damage to overall wellbeing.

Tips for Ensuring Adequate Sleep

If your 6 year old struggles to get enough high-quality sleep, try putting these tips into practice:

Stick to a Consistent Bedtime

Set a fixed bedtime that allows for at least 10 hours of sleep. Maintain this schedule on both weeknights and weekends to regulate the body’s circadian rhythms.

Establish a Soothing Bedtime Routine

Follow the same sequence of calm activities before bed like taking a bath, brushing teeth, reading a story, etc. A predictable wind-down routine signals to the brain and body that it’s time to relax and sleep.

Make the Bedroom Sleep Friendly

Keep the sleeping environment cool, quiet and dark. Remove electronic devices that can be stimulating. Invest in comfortable mattresses and bedding.

Limit Pre-Bed Screen Time

Restrict TV, tablet, phone and computer use at least 1 hour before bedtime. The blue light from electronic devices makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.

Ensure Daytime Physical Activity

Make sure kids get regular physical activity and time outdoors during daylight hours. Being active helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycles.

Watch Caffeine Intake

Limit or avoid caffeine from soda, chocolate and other sources later in the day. Caffeine is a stimulant that disrupts sleep when consumed close to bedtime.

Have a Relaxing Pre-Bed Routine

Incorporate activities like reading books, taking a warm bath, or listening to soothing music into the hour before bed. This transitions the mind and body into sleep mode.

Stick to a Schedule

Keep consistent bed and wake times on weekends and holidays too. Irregular sleep schedules can disturb the body’s natural circadian rhythms and sleep drive.

When to Seek Help for Sleep Issues

Occasional nights of poor sleep are normal, but if sleep problems persist, consult your pediatrician. Seek medical advice if your 6 year old:

  • Struggles to fall or stay asleep 3+ nights per week
  • Experiences loud snoring, breathing pauses or gasping in sleep
  • Takes longer than 20-30 minutes to fall asleep at night
  • Naps frequently or falls asleep unintentionally during the day
  • Seems overtired, hyperactive or emotionally volatile

A pediatrician can help identify any underlying issues interfering with sleep, like sleep disorders, medication side effects, mental health disorders, or other medical conditions. Don’t hesitate to raise sleep-related concerns with your child’s doctor.

Sleep Studies

If there seems to be an underlying physical or neurological issue impacting your child’s sleep, the doctor may recommend a sleep study. Also known as a polysomnogram, this test monitors brain waves, oxygen levels, heart rate and breathing during sleep. It can diagnose conditions like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy and night terrors in children.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a psychosocial treatment that helps children change negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors around sleep. A therapist can suggest strategies like sleep scheduling, relaxation techniques, habit changes and thought restructuring to improve sleep.

Sleep Medications

If behavioral modifications don’t work, doctors may prescribe certain prescription sleep medications for short term use. However, medications are typically a last resort after making lifestyle and environmental changes to promote healthy sleep.


Is it normal for a 6 year old to still nap?

Most 6 year olds have transitioned out of needing daytime naps. However, some still benefit from an occasional 45-60 minute nap, especially if they didn’t get enough nighttime sleep. Just try to schedule naps earlier in the day so they don’t interfere with bedtime.

What time should a 6 year old go to bed?

Ideally, a bedtime between 7:30-8:30 pm allows most 6 year olds to get the recommended 10-11 hours of overnight sleep they need. But an appropriate bedtime depends on your child’s sleep needs and wake up time in the morning.

Should I wake my 6 year old to go to school if they seem tired?

Yes, you should wake your child up on school days, even if they seem tired. Allowing oversleeping can shift circadian rhythms and actually worsen sleep issues. Stick to a consistent wake time, but try shifting bedtime earlier if your child seems overtired in the mornings.

What if my 6 year old is still tired after a full night’s sleep?

Excessive daytime sleepiness even after ample rest may indicate an underlying problem like a sleep disorder, medication side effect, or mental health issue. Consult your pediatrician if fatigue, sleepiness or other changes persist through the day.


Like all children, 6 year olds need a sizable amount of quality sleep for optimal health, growth and learning capacity. Most experts recommend school-aged kids get 9-12 hours of sleep per 24 hours. For a typical 6 year old, that means aiming for roughly 10-11 hours each night, with 10 continuous hours ideal. While some children may still nap occasionally at this age, the priority should be getting sufficient sleep overnight. Establishing regular bedtime and wake time routines, limiting pre-bed screen time, making the bedroom sleep friendly, and practicing other sleep hygiene can help ensure your 6 year old gets enough rest. Insufficient sleep can negatively impact children’s mood, behavior, academic performance and overall wellbeing. But by making sleep a priority and consulting your pediatrician when issues arise, you can help set your child up for healthy sleep habits now and down the road.

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