Does your child habitually walk up in the middle of the night because he has trouble sleeping? Or is he fidgety during bedtime? Read these tips from the family doctor so you can help your child fall asleep and remain asleep when he needs to.
Knowing More about Sleep Problems
If you look back into your own childhood years, you would perhaps recall times when you were so frustrated about being told to go to sleep, got up in the middle of the night, or felt impatient but really couldn’t go back to sleep. Yes, sleep problems are pretty usual among young kids. Some might not feel sleepy yet at their assigned bedtime, or have difficulty going to sleep without their nanny or sitter with them or sleepwalk. While it is annoying to handle a fussy baby or run around during the mornings because you preschooler is very hard to wake, there is help around the corner.
A lot of sleep problems are related to bedtime routines and behaviors during the daytime, and you can definitely work on this with your kid to make positive changes. Fortunately, with some resilience, discipline, and patience, you’ll soon see them sleeping soundly and have more peaceful nights yourself.
Your Child’s Sleep Needs
Before identifying if your kid has trouble sleeping or really does have a sleeping disorder, it would be wise for you to first understand his sleep needs. To be more efficient, young kids and teens are required to sleep more hours than the adults do. Infants need 12 to 16 hours of sleep, including their morning and afternoon naps. Toddlers must be able to get a total of 14 hours of sleep for the entire day. Kids 6 to 12, on the other hand, are totally fine with a minimum of 9 hours’ sleeping time. Finally, teens up to 18 are required to sleep for 8 to 12 hours in total.
How would you know if children aren’t getting sufficient sleep? They are actually like adults. They have their moods when they lack sleep. They’re often cranky and over-emotional, they can’t concentrate, and they fall asleep on their way to school. They also have some ‘space-out’ moments and they don’t follow conversations because they lack focus.
Rituals for Better Sleep
Other explanations for children’s insomnia may be related to their bedtime habits. Perhaps they’re used to being fed or rocked until they fall asleep. If you or your baby’s nanny are used to doing this at night, don’t stop abruptly. Instead, try putting her to bed when they’re almost sleepy. Maybe hum a tune sing a song. After a few days or weeks, they will be able to sleep without being rocked or fed.
Set a Relaxing Mood
To prepare your child for sleeping, create a relaxing mood beforehand – about 30 to 45 minutes. You may also include a few activities that could help soothe her. You can give her a quick warm bath, sing a lullaby, or read her a bedtime story. Don’t use smartphones and other electronic devices, as these worsen insomnia and further interrupt the sleep/wake cycle of the body.
When you create new routines, anticipate that your child will initially defy you. But instead of letting her cry all night, you can slowly let her get used to your absence. She’ll gradually be able to learn how to comfort herself and stop depending on you. If your kid finds it hard to sleep without you by her side, don’t keep checking on her always. When you go to the room and she’s still awake, just give her hugs and kisses but don’t stay long. If your child can get up from bed, close the door and tell her you’ll check on her but she has to stay in bed.
Practice a Reward System
If your child is a preschooler or older, you can try creating a positive reinforcement system for her. Give her incentives if she’s going to sleep at almost the same time every night. Reward her with smaller things first, like stickers or snacks to encourage good outcomes. Make sure you set achievable goals for her like if she sleeps in her own bed tonight, she’s getting her favorite ice cream in the morning.
Build Daytime Routines
In some instances, children’s inability to sleep and remain asleep during nighttime is linked to their behavior during the daytime. This is usually seen in teens and adolescents. Practicing daytime routines help support restful sleep.
· Encourage your child to sleep at the same time every day, including weekends. This will help her wakeup and sleep more easily. Adolescents can be given an hour more than their usual bedtime during the weekends, but not more than that.
· Don’t let your child go to bed very full or hungry. A piece of banana or warm milk before she heads off to bed would definitely fill her tummy and help give her a restful and continuous sleep. Heavy meals will keep children awake if they are too full an hour before their sleeping time.
· Inspire your child to be active. Exercise can be in the form of walks in the park during the afternoons, gardening with you in the morning, dancing with you in the living room.