Sleep in Children

Why is sleep important to children?

  1. It is the time the little bodies grow and repair various tissues
  2. Sleep helps to regulate the chemicals that control a child`s appetite.
  3. It helps a child learn. During sleep the brain stores memories that may be helpful to recall.
  4. Repair and growth of brain cells occur during sleep. This enables a child to improve their attention and concentration in school and at home.
  5. Good quality and adequate sleep improved mood and energy levels during the day. This enables the little one to play well and get some work done.

How can I tell if my child is not getting enough sleep?

A child that is sleep deprived :-

  • May have difficulty waking up in the morning
  • May complain of being tired throughout the day ( on an ordinary activity level day)
  • The teacher may complain that the child falls asleep in class
  • The child may be noted to fall asleep in the school bus
  • The child may get cranky all day

A child who gets adequate and restful sleep will tend to fall asleep within 15-30minutes of being put to bed and will wake up easily at around the same time each morning. They will also have a healthy appetite, good mood and engage in energetic play and activities.

How much sleep does my child need?

Each child has unique sleep needs. Medically there are ranges that have been found by the National Sleep Foundation to be sufficient according to each age group.

Age Recommended
New-born (0-3months) 14-17hours
Infants (4-11months) 12-15hours
Toddlers (1-2 years) 11-14hours
Kindergarten  (3-5 years) 10-13hours
School age (6-13 years) 9-11hours
Teenagers (14-17years) 8-10hours
Young Adults ( 18-25 years) 7-9hours

 

Does my child need a nap?

Most children below 6 years of age require a daytime nap. If you note that a child older than this falls asleep during the day, you should aim for an earlier bedtime to get the child to sleep for longer hours.

What if my child prefers to sleep during the daytime?

Human beings just like many other living things have a biological clock known as the circadian rhythm. This runs on a natural 24 hour cycle that controls sleep-wake cycles, hormones, appetite, energy levels among many others. The hormones involved in the sleep-wake cycle are influenced by natural light. Sleep is therefore most restful between sunset and sunrise when it is dark.

How do I get my toddler to bed?

Make sleep a family priority and stick to a consistent bedtime routine.  All family members including both parents, siblings, relatives in the home and the nanny should be collaborated in this routine. Discuss the importance of sleep with your child. A few methods have been internationally found to be helpful bedtime routines that soothe children and assist them to fall asleep. These include:-

  • A soothing bath that may/may not be accompanied by a massage
  • Brushing teeth
  • Using the washroom
  • Reading a bedtime story
  • Family prayer/ meditation
  • Singing a lullaby
  • A hug/ kiss
  • Avoid screens ( television, phones, video games or tablets ) at bedtime.

When should I be worried about my child`s sleep?

When they have increased snoring, long pauses between breathing in their sleep, sleep walking, persistent night terrors, restart of bedwetting after a long period of being dry and night-time awakening. Consult your paediatrician  if you are worried about your child`s sleep. He/she  who may then refer you to the ear, nose and throat specialist or Psychiatrist

Top ten Good sleep hygiene measures for my child.

  1. The bedroom should be quiet. Noise from electrical gadgets like TV, radio or adults engaging in loud conversation should be avoided.
  2. The room should have the right temperature. Use adequate clothing to keep the child warm during cold months and do not overdress them during warm months.
  3. The room should be dark. If your child is afraid of darkness you can having a dim bedside or corridor light until they fall asleep.
  4. Have a regular sleep schedule. Bedtime and wake up time should be consistent daily. This includes weekends and holidays. A variation of more than 2 hours disrupts the sleep rhythm.

Sleep should be largely during the night ( darkness)

  1. Help your child fall asleep using any routine that is appropriate for your family with a few suggestions listed above.
  2. Make sure your child gets sufficient sleep according to the recommended durations above.
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