How to Know When Your Kid Needs a Nap


When dealing with a cranky toddler or a moody teenager, you start to question your sanity. However, the solution really may just be that your kid needs to take a nap. The American Academy of Pediatrics has guidelines on the number of hours children should sleep based on their ages. For example, children between the ages of 5 and 12 are supposed to get a minimum of 9 hours of sleep, but preferably 11 hours. Tweens and teens between the ages of 13 and 18? Somewhere between 8 to 10 hours of sleep. But, what happens if your kid doesn’t get enough sleep?

Lack of Attention

Much like adults, children who lack the proper amount of sleep face focus problems while in school or at other activities. Their minds tend to wander or they’re so drowsy they struggle with attentiveness. If your child is struggling with their homework or if they’re falling behind their classmates, take a look at your child’s sleep schedule and make sure they’re getting the optimal amount. Another sign? A child, or teen, who takes an excessive amount of naps, or really long naps, may not be getting the proper amount of sleep at night.

Emotional Regulation

If you’re looking for more evidence on how sleep affects your child’s development, think about whether your child has experienced stronger than normal mood swings or unusually emotional behavior. When a child lacks the proper amount of sleep, it’s not uncommon for small things to trigger big emotions. Add puberty into the mix and you’ve got an excessively moody teenager. Even without puberty exacerbating the situation, younger kids will struggle in their friendships or sibling relationships because they are unable to properly control negative emotions. If your child is grumpier than normal or shows excessive mood swings, it may be time to evaluate how much sleep your child is actually receiving.

Lack of Spatial Awareness

Excessive sleepiness and lack of focus can lead to one clumsy kid. A child who lacks enough sleep may bump into objects more often or not properly take corners. Perhaps your child gets dizzy often or complains that their vision is blurry. These are generally signs of severe sleep deprivation, but small things such as more clumsiness than normal can indicate a more serious problem. However, if your child is receiving proper rest and is still exhibiting these symptoms, be sure to seek advice from a physician because it could indicate other, larger problems.

How to Help

Lack of sleep could be due to anything from physiological issues like sleep disorders, or due to home environment issues such as uncomfortable sleeping arrangements or too much electronics time too close to bedtime. The good news is that there are several strategies to help most of these situations.

  • You can limit screen time and sugary or caffeinated food and drinks a few hours before bed. No more sugary snacks for your toddler right before bed and make sure your teen hasn’t had a caffeinated beverage since the early afternoon.
  • If you’re worried about the comfort of your child’s bedroom, look for ways to make it more comfortable. You can easily adjust temperature and lighting with a few tips from the internet. If you’re worried that their bed is uncomfortable, you can search for helpful articles about mattress pads vs. toppers to see what might help.
  • You can put together a routine and try to make bedtime slightly earlier to account for falling asleep time. Work with your child on relaxing before bed. You can read a story together, or your child can take a soothing bath before crawling into bed. Hectic moments of cleaning bedrooms or finishing homework make it difficult to drift off to sleep.


Ultimately, just like adults, kids need the proper amount of sleep to function properly. In most cases, though, kids need more sleep. If you want your children to have the best chance to succeed, start with a good night’s sleep tonight and every night.