Coercing, bribing, nagging –all techniques on the face of the Earth fall flat when it comes to putting your child to sleep. It is the most tiring and stressful task for parents. Poor sleep can have serious ill-effects on your child’s health.
It’s scientifically proven, that children who don’t get adequate sleep daily develop behavioural and learning problems. Teenagers are also prone to depression if they do not sleep enough. Conditions like ADHD, lack of concentration and high risk of obesity are all linked to too little sleep in children. Is there a permanent solution to get children to sleep? And how much should your child really sleep? Is he sleeping well or is his sleep pattern disturbed?
Children and their sleeping patterns and habits are a constant source of worry for parents.While doing what works best for your child is the only mantra, here are a few tips that can come handy in helping your child sleep.
Children understand patterns better than instructions. Make it a daily routine to unwind and relax before bedtime. A typical bed time routine of brushing teeth, wearing night suit, speaking softly, dimming the lights of the house, followed by a relaxing activity like reading or singing lullabies. You can let your child choose a book, which will make them look forward to bed-time every day.
Using a sticker chart to show the routine can be helpful especially for children with learning disabilities to help them follow through.
Children are meant to be active, energetic and sprightly. They will tire all adults in the house and still have energy left at the end of the day. Parents must ensure that their kids expend as much energy as they can during the day with physical activities. Any outdoor activity like football, badminton, and cycling, swimming, or simply running and free play will utilize their energy well. This prepares their mind and body for long hours of sleep.
There are some things your child should be kept away from, just before going to bed. Sweets are known to give a sudden boost of energy which may result in hyper activity. Older and adolescent children must refrain from screen time i.e. watching television or playing games on phone. Even reading mystery or horror books before bedtime is not recommended since it may cause disturbed sleep. You can instead play soothing music on really low volume in your child’s room.
The number of hours of sleep that a child needs depends on many factors, one of them being age. New-borns to infants sleep anywhere between 15 to 17 hours a day. Their sleep pattern is not rigid and is divided into multiple small naps during the day. Pre-schoolers between the age of 3 to 5 years sleep for about 9 to 13 hours. They usually take 2 naps in the day which is then consolidated into one nap of around 2 hours in the afternoon after lunch and then directly at night.
Children between the age of 6 to 13 years sleep from 8 to 12 hours every day. Teenagers also require around 7 to 11 hours of sleep at a stretch. Sleep durations may vary as per your child’s daily routine, physical wellbeing and surrounding environment.
Your little one’s disposition is a quick indicator to determine if she has slept enough. While lack of sleep can make your child grumpy and disoriented and less attentive, excessive sleep can make her drowsy and lethargic. A well-rested child who has had adequate sleep is usually happy and playful.
Here are some quick ways to find out if your child is sleep deprived:
If you suspect that your child is not sleeping enough or is suffering from excessive sleepiness, then consult a paediatrician to rule out sleep disorders. Lastly, ensure that you are not sleep deprived. Happy and healthy parents are in a better position to help their child cope with sleep related issues.