Our goal with the children's martial arts program is to help our youthful students to be happy, healthy and successful in the long term.   To reach these outcomes we focus on teaching them martial arts in an age-appropriate way so that their lives are improved not just physically, but intellectually, emotionally and socially as well. 

However, in all the attention to learning martial arts, self-defense, physical fitness, academics, etc; discussion on the proper amount of sleep often gets neglected.  

Humans need a sufficient amount of sleep to function and perform optimally.  This is especially true for children as their minds and bodies are still developing.  Their physical, mental and emotional state is truly depending on getting enough rest. 

Children may not show the typical signs for lack of sleep and they may not be able to articulate or communicate that more sleep is what they need.  So, as parents and coaches, it's our responsibility to help guide and ensure that they get enough. 

Here are some tips I recommend to my adults students for better sleep.  I think they can be helpful for kids too. 

  1. Maintain consistency of sleep and wake times, even on the weekends
  2. Seek total darkness. You may need to get "dots" to black out LED lights from various electronics
  3. Don't eat, exercise or watch TV too close to bedtime.  At least a 1-hour break is optimum. 
  4. Put down other electronics: phone, tablet, etc at least 1-hour before bedtime
  5. Have important or stressful conversations earlier in the day
  6. Making a to-do and to-don't list for the next day will help put your mind at ease. 

Here are some guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation: 




May be appropriate

Not recommended


0-3 months


14 to 17 hours

11 to 13 hours

18 to 19 hours

Less than 11 hours

More than 19 hours


4-11 months


12 to 15 hours

10 to 11 hours

16 to 18 hours

Less than 10 hours

More than 18 hours


1-2 years


11 to 14 hours

9 to 10 hours

15 to 16 hours

Less than 9 hours

More than 16 hours


3-5 years


10 to 13 hours

8 to 9 hours

14 hours

Less than 8 hours

More than 14 hours

School-aged Children

6-13 years


9 to 11 hours

7 to 8 hours

12 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 12 hours


14-17 years


8 to 10 hours

7 hours

11 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 11 hours

Young Adults

18-25 years


7 to 9 hours

6 hours

10 to 11 hours

Less than 6 hours

More than 11 hours


How Much Sleep do Children Need

Somnath Sikdar
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Master, 7th Dan Black Belt
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