Toddlers are far more physically active than infants, and their sleeping behavior and the timing of sleep cycles reflects their maturing brains. A toddler will spend only about 30 percent of her sleep time in REM dream sleep. Toddlers on average require 12 to 14 hours of sleep and may no longer need an afternoon nap to meet this sleep requirement. But research shows that children in the one to three-year-old range may actually average only about 11.7 hours of sleep.
Children in this age group tend to be more troubled with nightmares and night terrors than younger children. They may resist going to bed at night because of fear of the dark or of some monster lurking under the bed. Parental reassurance and comfort and the addition of a night light may alleviate some of these concerns.
Preschool children may also feel anxiety around the issue of toilet training and bedwetting.
School-age children require from eight to 10 hours of sleep nightly. Adequate sleep is especially important as school children's lives become busier and stress levels rise. Sleep disruptions such as nightmares tend to increase with this age group as the child has more life experiences and anxieties to process. Parents should also monitor the child's use of caffeinated beverages which can cause sleep difficulties and add to the overall loss of adequate sleep.
Adolescents require at least 10 hours of nightly sleep. This is a busy time when many teens' lifestyles include school, work, sports, and other extracurricular activities, as well as socializing with peers. This increase in activity, together with early-morning school schedules, leaves little time for adequate sleep. Various psychological disorders also may trouble the adolescent, particularly anxiety and depression. Parents should pay attention to a young teen who shows sudden changes in eating habits, loss of interest in usual activities, and other behavioral clues that may indicate onset of depression.