Once you’re past the baby stage you’re hopeful that your child’s sleep patterns become more reliable. But it’s not uncommon for sleep problems to develop at any stage during childhood.
As your child grows and develops, they may go through a phase of poor sleep, whether it be getting to sleep or staying asleep. We take a look at some ways you can help your child get the rest they need.
The importance of sleep
Your preschooler needs between 10 and 13 hours sleep each day (including naps) and getting enough sleep can have a direct effect on how settled and happy your child is during the day. It also impacts a whole lot more including learning and memory, cognitive performance, attention skills, and even how resilient they are. 1
When they don’t get enough sleep
You probably don’t need us to describe to you what happens when your child is short on sleep as you’re no doubt familiar with things such as mood swings from grumpy to almost euphoric, plus a notable lack of tolerance and resilience. A lack of sleep may also cause less immediately obvious things developing such as anxiety and a poor immune system.
It is also believed that poor childhood sleep can also contribute to health issues in the future including obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.2
Reasons for poor sleep
There are many reasons why your child may not be getting enough sleep. It may be that they have never been able to develop good sleep patterns, are undergoing a growth spurt, are upset, anxious or excited about something, are having night terrors or nightmares, have been unwell, or find it difficult to calm themselves after a busy day.
The blue light emitting from devices can also disrupt the production of natural sleep hormones.
Tips for helping your children get the sleep they need
Routine – A regular wake up and bedtime can be key to help your child get off to sleep and stay asleep until morning.
A regular bedtime routine is also crucial. Turn off all devices well before sleep time and start a quiet wind-down period that might include a bath, pyjamas, a snack or drink, teeth brushing, then a cuddle and a story or a chapter from a good book.
Your child then might like to read for a while before snuggling down in a calm, quiet room.
Comforting – A toy, blankie, or sound that is comforting and calming for your child that they automatically associate with calm sleep is a great idea. If they don’t already have one it’s not too late – they could perhaps choose their softest toy, your softest t-shirt, or their favourite movie soundtrack and you can include that in your bedtime routine. Always put your child to bed awake so they know they can settle and go to sleep by themselves.
Space – Create a safe and comfortable space for your children that will help maximize their sleep. Investing in a quality bed that will promote proper circulation essential to a kid’s health is a huge step to help your kids achieve their daily sleep. Adjustable beds like those recommended by Sleep Education are some of the few adjustable beds that will provide support and proper body alignment whenever they get their everyday sleep. (Sponsored link)
Problem solve – Ensure your child gets plenty of fresh air and exercise during the day so they are nicely tired at the end of the day – but also try not to let them get overtired as this can make it very hard for them to feel calm and settled at bedtime.
Blackout curtains can be really helpful for creating a calm environment, especially during summer. If they don’t like their room dark you could create some gentle light with things like glow in the dark stars on the ceiling, fairy lights, a night sky projector, or a night light.
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Written by Robyn Cody
Robyn creates content on Kidspot NZ. Her hobbies include buying cleaning products and wondering why things don’t then clean themselves, eating cheese scones with her friends, and taking her kids to appointments.
Favourite motto to live by: “This too will pass”