Is your child sleeping enough? It can be very tough to figure out exactly how much sleep your child needs and when he or she should go to sleep, especially because your child’s slumber needs will change as he or she gets older. With age the hours of sleeps will change too.
According to sleep pro Kristin Avis, Ph.D, Children behavior and symptoms will be different when they don’t get enough sleep. Some adults suspects that their child might have ADHAD without checking the facts.
Including regular nap will help children to get back to normal activities similar to other kids of their age.
According to an expert “a just 30 minutes of sleep a night can have a measurable impact on a child’s well-being,” (Lisa Meltzer, Ph.D., a sleep specialist).
Symptoms of not getting enough sleep in children:
In Young Children (Babies, Toddlers)
- Is cranky, whiny, or fussy, especially in the late afternoon on a regular basis
- Acts especially clingy, needy
- Displays fidgety, antsy, or hyperactive behavior
- Has trouble sharing, taking turns
- Is not talkative, taciturn
- Wakes up groggy; falls asleep after being woken up and needs to be woken again
- Wants to lie down or nap during the day, snores
- Probably falls asleep during very short car rides
- Has difficulty changing from two naps to one nap a day
In kids who are in Elementary School
- Is hyperactive
- Falls asleep at inappropriate times
- Needs to be woken in the morning, sometimes multiple times
- Lacks interest, alertness, motivation, and/or an attention span
- Seems drowsy at school or at home during homework
- Has academic struggles
- Falls asleep during short car rides
- Experiences night terrors/sleepwalking for the first time
- Needs regular naps
- Exhibits loud snoring, breaks in breathing, or extreme restlessness at night
- Has anxiety about being separated from you during the day and night
- Has extreme difficulty waking up in the morning
- Experiences mood swings
- Has trouble concentrating
- Feels unmotivated
- Acts irritable in the early afternoon
- Falls asleep easily during the day
- Has academic troubles
- Sleeps for long periods on the weekends
- Is hyperactive or aggressive
- Consumes excessive amounts of caffeine
- Uses drugs
- Seems “Out of it” or confused
How much sleep needed for children of different age group?
1. Newborns (up to three months): 14 to 17 hours
2. Infants (four to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours
3. Toddlers (one to two): 11 to 14 hours
4. Preschoolers (three to five): 10 to 13 hours
5. School-age (six to 13): 9 to 11 hours
6. Teens (14 to 17): 8 to 10 hours
How to make children sleep?
1. Create a routine for sleep: A routine time helps kids to get into sleepy mood. Books at bedtime help kids sleep much better or a short story can help too. With young children -give a snuggle and make them smile when they go to bed. This relaxes their mind and they will go to sleep. When the stress hormone cortisol levels are high, your child’s body won’t be able to shut down and go to sleep.
2. No TV, smart phones or any LED screens: The blue light emitted from all those modern gadgets can disrupt the kid’s ability to drift off. Shut off all electronics an hour before. Do not allow children to text before bedtime. Take the device and keep in a safe place. If you have installed a TV in your child’s room – remove it says experts. If you are not around when your child is watching TV – they may see contents that can interrupt their sleep.
3. No night time sweet or juice or sugar: Instead of giving sugary food, give some snacks with protein and low sugar content. Cheese stick or glass of milk is better option. This fulfills their stomach and they will not get up hungry.
4. A cozy room: Create a cozy cave!. Let there be dim, dull light with little cool air in the room. Darkness helps child to tap into his /her natural circadian rhythms. The reason is darkness tells body to produce more melatonin that makes child sleepy soon. Too many stuffed animals will make it hard for child to sleep. Leave one or two favorite toys with them. Leave the children bedroom door slightly open so that they know you are there in case they need you.
5. Don’t use bedroom as a timeout place - If you want to give time out chose a room that is not child’s bedroom. Tell them to sit in living room, dining hall but not in their room. Reason is child may see bedroom as the scary, timeout place and may not like sleeping in their bedroom. For teens create a soft room-darkening shades, and relative quiet room- this can help your child differentiate between day and night, making it easier to fall asleep.
6. If you know how much sleep your child needs and what time they go to bed, then set a wake up time. Allow your children to sleep few hours extra during weekends and holidays.
Watch your child for sleep disorders. Despite your best efforts if the child continues to have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep during the night or has nightmares or night terrors, they might have a genuine sleep disorder. Talk to your child’s pediatrician and get advice.