Sleep problems are common among children, especially when they’re young. Insomnia, bedtime fears, night terrors, sleepwalking, and bed-wetting can all disrupt your child’s natural sleep cycle. Some children may not feel tired at their designated bedtime, while others might have trouble sleeping without a parent present.
On average, a baby needs 14-15 hours of sleep in a day, but this can vary from one child to the next. New-borns often become drowsy while they are feeding. Babies aged six months and over are less inclined to fall asleep while feeding. They may also learn how to keep themselves awake, and parents may have to devise new strategies to help their older baby relax and go to sleep.
Toddlers need, on average, around 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night and daytime naps. A young child’s sleeping routine at night can be severely disrupted if they don’t get enough sleep during the day or if their afternoon nap is too close to bedtime. Children, just like adults, have trouble controlling their moods when they’re sleep-deprived. Sleep, or lack thereof, affects much of a child’s behaviour and state of mind.
Help your child go to bed and get up around the same time every day. Keep wake-up times on school days and weekends to within two hours of each other. It can help your child’s sleep cycle get into a regular rhythm. In the mornings, ask him to get out of bed as soon as he wakes up rather than trying to go back to sleep.
If your child is older than five, avoid daytime naps. Daytime naps longer than 20 minutes can make it harder for children to go to sleep at night, get into a deep sleep, and wake up in the morning.
A fixed bedtime routine of bath, teeth brushing, bedtime story help younger children relax and feel ready for sleep. Older children might like to wind down by reading a book or listening to soothing music. Staying away from screens an hour before bed will also help your child relax and fall asleep.
If your child has a busy morning routine, encourage them to use some wind-down time at night to complete tasks for the upcoming morning, such as getting clothes or school bags ready.
If your child feels scared about going to bed or being in the dark, you can praise and reward him whenever he’s brave. Avoiding scary TV shows, movies, computer games, or books can help too. Some children with a disrupted sleep cycle might sleep better when they have a night light.
A dark, quiet, private space is essential for a good sleep cycle. You can check whether your child’s bedroom is too bright or noisy. It’ll probably help to turn off electronic stimulation in your child’s bedroom at least one hour before bedtime. It includes loud music, mobile phones, computer screens and TV.
Make sure your child has a satisfying evening meal at a reasonable time. Feeling hungry or too full before bed can make the body more alert or uncomfortable. It can make it harder to fall asleep and have a good sleep cycle.
Encourage your child to get as much natural light as possible during the day, especially in the morning. It will help her body produce the melatonin necessary for a healthy sleep cycle. A healthy breakfast also helps to kick-start the body clock.
Encourage your child to avoid caffeine in the form of energy drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate and cola, especially in the late afternoon and evening.
Physical activity and exercise help children to sleep longer and better. But if your child is having difficulty with their sleep cycle, discourage active play and sports late at night. The stimulation and increase in body temperature can make it harder to go to sleep.
Establishing healthy daytime and evening routines can help your child have a good night’s sleep. And if your child is sleeping well, chances are you might sleep better too. We hope you can use this list to establish better sleeping rules for your child
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