Is Lack of Sleep Causing My Child’s Bad Behavior?

infant sleeping peacefully through the night
Just like anyone else, a child cannot be at her best if she isn’t getting a good night’s sleep, or have a regualr bedtime. We all want our children to sleep well; not only is it good for them, but when they sleep well, we parents sleep well. A lack of sleep leads to a child being over tired, irritable, over-emotional, and lathargic.  Sometimes overtiredness presents itself in the form of uncontrollable energy followed by large, dramatic melt-downs.  So before you start to think that your child has a behavior issue, first check to see if your child is getting enough sleep on a regular basis.

What Bedtime Does A Child X Years Old Need to get Enough Sleep?

Kids need more sleep than you think, and just because they seem fine to stay up until 10pm doesn’t mean they should. The proper amount of sleep aids in better development, and a more functional child.

  • Babies under 1 year old need to sleep about 14-15 hours every day that includes naps and night sleep
  • Kids who are 3-6 years old still need 10-12 hours of sleep a day that may or may not include naps
  • 7 to 12 year olds require about 9-11 hours of sleep each night
  • Kids older than 12 can get by with a good 8-9 hours of sleep each night

4 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Better

Have a consistent bedtime routine

Kids are creatures of habit, and they also cannot be turned off like a switch, so bedtime routines are perfect for allowing time to calm down and get ready for sleep.
A bedtime routine may only be 5-10 minutes long, or it could be 30 minutes long. It all depends on what works for you and your child.

Activities that are great for a bedtime routine can include a bath or shower, cuddling, talking, reading, singing quiet songs, or yoga. Whatever bedtime you and your child like will be perfect. Just remember to make them calming, not stimulating activities, and do them the same way every night.

Consistency with a bedtime routine is key to cueing your child’s body and mind to get ready for sleep.

Music or white noise

Sometimes it’s hard for kids to fall asleep if parents, older siblings, or crying babies are still awake in the house. Having soft music or white noise playing in your child’s room can help to block out the other noises around the house, and aid in calming your child’s mind. And when minds are calm, they can drift into sleep.


Lavender has long been used as a home remedy to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. In the old days, people would fill their pillowcases with lavender flowers, but today you can just spray some lavender scent on the pillowcases. There are also lavender bath washes and lotions you can use on your child before he goes to sleep.

Ensure your child is getting enough sleep by assigning a proper bed time

Suggested Bedtimes by Age:

8-10 months                       5:30-7:00

10-15 months                    6:00-7:30

15m-3 years                       6:00-7:30

3-6 years                              6:00-8:00

7-12 years                           7:30-9:00

If your child doesn’t seem well rested in the mornings, you may need to re-evaluate bed time. Try adjusting the bedtime by 30 minute incriments, and be sure to give the new bedtime a few days of trial before switching it again.

The parenting techniques I practice and teach through Working With Parents help with children’s bedtime compliance, so if this is a problem you need help with, please click here for our services.