Children and Sleep

Excerpt from Secrets of a Good Night's Sleep

Copyright ©, All Rights Reserved Dream Essentials 2015

 

It is a well understood fact that sleep is important for human beings in general. But, it is even more vital when it comes to young children. Sleep for children plays a crucial role in the overall physical and mental development of a child. Children who receive sufficient amounts of sleep usually exhibit better learning skills and behavior. This is why it is necessary for parents to encourage good sleeping habits in their children and keep an eye on their sleeping patterns.

The bedtime routine tends to vary for children of different ages and it also depends on several other factors.

Newborn babies that are just a week to 4 weeks old need to rest their bodies for about 15 to 18 hours every day. But, this routine needs to be split into 3 to 4 hour sleep schedules. Colicky children might sleep for a shorter duration than normal while premature babies tend to sleep for longer hours.

Children aged a month to 4 months old need to have 14-15 hours of sleep per day. At this age, the children relax a little and the whole day-night confusion starts to die down. The children in this age group start to sleep regularly and generally towards the evening.

4 to 12 month old babies require 14 to 15 hours a day and this is general divided into 3 naps. At this age, the circadian rhythm starts maturing and the parent needs to start establishing proper sleep schedules.

Once children cross the 12 month mark, they will require 14 hours of sleep. During this period, the morning and evening naps will generally cease. The child will start to follow normal nighttime sleeping patterns.

As children start to grow and progress into their teen years, their sleep hours will reduce to somewhere between 8 to 12 hours per day. The teenage years are very crucial and parents need to enforce strict sleeping schedules, especially considering the fact that children in this age group undergo various pressures, social and otherwise, forcing them to stay up late.

Parents need to start early when it comes to training their children to sleep on time. One way they can do this is by helping their children form positive associations with the habit of sleeping. For instance, do not allow children to watch TV or use the computer before going to bed. Instead, engage them in activities that are relaxing and relatively less stimulating. Make sure that the sleeping environment in your child’s bedroom is consistent in terms of temperature and general comfort.

Another important thing to do is to create a fixed sleep time. Children must be taught to go to bed every day at the same time. This can be encouraged by following a pre-sleep ritual such as eating a light snack, brushing their teeth, wearing pajamas, and reading a storybook just before sleeping.

If your child suffers from nightmares, which is quite common among young children, then encourage them to talk about it. Also, take measures to create a positive frame of mind for your children before bedtime. Share pleasant stories and eliminate TV viewing before bedtime. This has been a tried and tested method in eliminating nightmares among children.