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Sleep and Your Preschooler

Medically reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD

How Much Sleep Do Preschoolers Need?

Preschoolers need about 10 to 13 hours of sleep each day, including naps. Set regular bedtimes, wake-up times, and nap times for your child. If your child no longer takes naps, schedule some quiet time during the day. 

Do Preschoolers Still Need a Nap?

Many preschoolers get all their sleep at night and may give up their afternoon naps. For preschoolers who still need to nap, set a regular time and have a consistent naptime routine. Most sleep about an hour.

Kids may need to nap if they are:

  • not getting enough sleep at night
  • rubbing their eyes or looking tired
  • cranky, whiny, or moody
  • hyperactive

Active preschoolers may need some time during the day to slow down. Even if your child doesn’t take a nap, try to set aside some quiet time for relaxing.

How Can I Help My Preschooler Sleep?

Having a regular bedtime routine and a quiet, comfortable bedroom can help your child sleep well. A relaxing routine may include going to the bathroom, changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, and reading a book. Turn off all screens at least 1 hour before bedtime and keep TVs, computers, tablets, phones, and video games out of the bedroom.

Make the bedroom quiet and restful. Let your child choose a special toy or blanket to sleep with. Turn on a nightlight if your child is afraid of the dark. Do not lie with your child until they fall asleep or let your child fall asleep somewhere other than their own bed. This can make it hard for kids to fall asleep on their own.

Make sure your child gets plenty of exercise during the day. This can help kids sleep better.

What if My Child Has Sleep Problems?

It’s common for kids this age to not want to go to bed and to wake up in the middle of the night. Preschoolers may have nightmares or night terrors, and there may be many nights when they just can’t seem to fall asleep.

Having a nightlight and choosing a favorite stuffed animal and blanket to sleep with can help kids feel safe.

If your child wakes at night and calls out to you, try not to answer right away. Give your child a chance to fall asleep without your help. If your child is afraid or gets very upset, go in and offer comfort. After comforting and returning your child to bed, say that it's time to go to sleep. Keep your visit short.

If your child cries when you leave, wait a few minutes before going back in the room. If your child gets out of bed, calmly take them back to bed.

If you have questions or concerns about your preschooler's sleep, talk with your doctor.

Medically reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: June 2020