the Importance of Sleep
Establishing a sleep routine is crucial to a child’s health
What happens when children sleep?
Is my child sleep deprived?
If a child is not getting sufficient sleep they suffer in numerous ways. Parents should look out for the following signs of sleep deprivation.
Lack of awareness
Struggling to process information or remember things
Falling asleep during the day
Sleeping more at weekends to compensate for a lack of sleep during the week
Mood swings and irritability
In addition to the above, sleep deprivation can cause changes in the metabolism that could lead to obesity or heart disease in later life.
What is healthy sleep?
Fall asleep within twenty minutes once in bed and settled
Sleep through the night most of the time
Wake up feeling, refreshed, alert and ready for the day.
How can I ensure my child’s sleep is healthy?
Newborn: 0-3 months – 14-17 hours per day
Infant: 4-11 months – 12-15 hours per day
Toddler: 1-2 years old – 11-14 hours per day
Preschool: 3-5 years old – 10-13 hours per day
School-age::6-13 years old – 9-11 hours per day
Parents should count back from the top end of the range appropriate to their child’s age to calculate a bedtime (e.g. for a school age child expected to wake up at 7 a.m. count back eleven hours for a bed time of 8 p.m.). They should monitor when their child wakes naturally and adjust bedtime accordingly. Parents should try to stay within the guidelines as most children will need to sleep for at least the minimum time for their age group.
In addition to ensuring that children get enough sleep, there are steps parents can take to guarantee good-quality sleep.
Establish a routine
Ensure the routine is consistent
Create a sleep-friendly environment
Ensure that children’s bedrooms are quiet, cool and dark, and take steps to avoid disturbing a sleeping child. If a younger child is sharing a room with an older sibling, make arrangements to prevent them from waking their younger brother or sister. This can be done by making the child get ready for bed at the same time as their sibling or in another room. Parents may also wish to consider giving the older child the bed closest to the door or the bottom bunk.
Consistency is key
Once a bedtime routine has been established, it is important to stick to it. By following the advice above, parents can help their children maintain healthy sleep habits that will ensure they are always ready for the many challenges that childhood will throw at them.