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Sleep Disorders

Excessive Sleep Of 16 Month Old Toddler

09/25/2008

Question:

My 16 month old daughter sleeps about 14 hours at night and 3 hours during the day. However, when I go to work and she has to get up earlier (averaging only 12 hours of sleep at night and 3 during the day), she gets very tired and irritable - and on weekends she sleeps up to 19 hours at a stretch - i.e. from 6 p.m. to 2 p.m. the next afternoon. On weekends she is sometimes awake only 3-4 hours a day. During these long periods of sleep, she does not move around much, or make noise - she seems to be in a deep sleep the entire time. I`m concerned that there is something wrong. I have never heard of a toddler sleeping this much.

Answer:

There is a wide variation in the amount of time that toddlers may sleep. The usual average for this age is about 14 hrs total sleep (which includes a couple of naps) during a 24 hour day. But there can be wide variation in normal children.

So the first question to ask is whether your daughter is otherwise normal? Does she seem to be growing normally? Is she developing normally? Has she had recurrent illnesses or are there any other medical concerns? Have other family members had medical problems or similar history of sleepiness?

This amount of sleep might be a normal variation if your daughter is otherwise healthy, growing and developing normally and is found to be otherwise without illness. However, excessive sleepiness also may be a symptom of a wide range of problems, including underlying infections, metabolic disorders, tumors, heart/brain problems or toxin exposures.

I suggest that your daughter first be examined by a pediatrician for a careful history and physical examination, specifically looking for any sign of abnormalities or chronic illness which may be causing undo fatigue and sleepiness. Further consultation with a pediatric neurologist may be helpful if there are still questions.

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Response by:

Mark   Splaingard, MD Mark Splaingard, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University