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Norms and Trends of Sleep Time Among US Children and Adolescents

Williams, J.A., Zimmerman, F.J., Bell, J.F. (2013). Norms and Trends of Sleep Time Among US Children and Adolescents. JAMA Pediatr, 167:1, 55-60.


To develop national sleep norms conditional on age and to examine stratification by sex, race/ethnicity, and changes over time.

Design: Secondary analysis of a panel survey.

Variables Measured, Instruments Used

  1. Developmental Outcomes: Child Development Supplement (CDS) of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (national representation)
  2. Daytime Sleep: Time diary entries
  3. Total Sleep for Weekday: diary
  4. Total Sleep for Weekend: diary


  • N=6,776
  • Participant ages: birth to age 18 years old
  • Location: United States
  • Eligibility: age
  • SES: nationally representative sample
  • Additional Profile: none


  • Differences between the current analysis and studies conducted in the 20th century may arise for several reasons.
  • The trend data presented here focus on a relatively narrow time frame: from 1997 to 2007.
  • Self-report data tend to overestimate total sleep time, and it is expected that time diaries would have a similar weakness. These estimates should be interpreted in that light. For clinical communication, however, the estimates presented here may be more meaningful to parents and their children precisely because the kinds of bias from parental report during clinical encounters are similar to those present in these data.
  • Data were collected during the school year and may not necessarily reflect sleep patterns during the summer.


  • Although the amount of sleep children need differs by child, recommendations cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are for 12 to 14 hours for children aged 1 to 3 years, decreasing to 11 to 13 hours for children aged 3 to 5, to 10 to 11 hours for children aged 5 to 10, and to 8½ to 9½ hours for adolescents.
  • The estimates presented here mirror this range quite well and suggest that children in the United States are getting an appropriate amount of sleep on average. There is no evidence of a decrease in sleep quantity during the 10-year period of these data and no evidence of clinically meaningful racial/ethnic differences in the amount of sleep among children and youth.
  • the typical school-age child sleeps approximately 10 hours a night. Older children sleep a little less and younger children a little more. A typical toddler sleeps approximately 11½ hours a night. These estimates are consistent with the amount of sleep recommended for children, and these results present no evidence of racial/ethnic differences or changes over time.
  • These results are presented as norms of sleep in the sense of what normally occurs, not necessarily what is healthy.