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Written by Karen Torrisi

This is just a quick look at how much sleep we really do need.  Sleeping is a learnt skilled and is not that hard to learn.  If you have a uncooperative child who won't sleep for long or wakes frequently during the night then you need to seek advice as sleep interruption and deprivation is not good for your child health and development.

Some people are under the impression that we require a lot less than recommended and this can cause lots of problems. Research shows that people who sleep less than recommended over many nights do not perform as well on complex mental tasks as do people who get the recommended.  Having interrupted sleep or deprivation does interfere with your health and well being.  Much research shows that consistent lack of sleep does effect brain development, growth and your immune system.  We sleep to rejuvenate and restore the chemicals in our brain and the earlier we learn to sleep well the better it will be for your child.   Also not only do you have the internal effects though you may encounter these effects in toddlers/children;

  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Temper tantrums
  • The tendency to emotionally ‘explode’ at the slightest provocation
  • Over-activity and hyperactive behaviour
  • Grogginess when they wake up in the morning
  • Reluctance to get out of bed in the morning.

Babies (0-2 months) : recommended 14 - 18 hours, babies generally sleep with no play and minimal awake time during the first few months. Newborns rarely sleep for more than 5 hours at a time with a need to be fed, changed and nurtured. Until the age of 6 months, the part of a baby's brain that controls when he goes to sleep and wakes up is not developed yet.

Sleep Tips for Newborns

  • Observe baby's sleep patterns and identify signs of sleepiness, some will fuss, cry, rub eyes or other individual gestures.
  • Put baby in the bassinet when drowsy, not asleep and this will make things easier down the track
  • Place baby to sleep on his/her back with face and head clear of blankets and other soft items. The Miji Baby Head Rest is also good during 0-4 months to avoid flat head syndrome (this can be purchase from our online store)

Infants (2 - 6 months): recommended 14 - 16 hours (this time includes day naps)

  • Develop regular daytime and bedtime schedules.
  • Create a consistent and enjoyable bedtime routine and stick to it
  • Put baby to in cot half sleep but still awake, this encourages your baby to become independent and a self soother.

Infants (6-12 months): recommended 13- 15 hours (this time includes day naps)

  • By 6 months of age, night time feeds are usually not necessary and many infants can sleep through the night and by nine months with two-hour naps, one to three times a day – fewer as they reach age one.

Toddlers (1 -3 years): recommended 12 - 14 hours 

When toddlers reach about approximately 18 months of age their nap times will decrease to once a day lasting about one to three hours. It is important that nap times should not occur too close to bedtime as they may delay sleep at night.

Many toddlers also can begin to experience sleep problems including resisting going to bed and nighttime awakenings.

The important things to remember:

  • Have a consistent bedtime routine and keep to the same bedtime each day
  • Download our bedtime sticker chart
  • Toddlers will push boundaries and try to stay up longer and ask for that an extra book to be read, or more cuddles so be strong and watch all the signs of them getting tired and take advantage of that window opportunity to get them to sleep on time.
  • If you are having a lot of trouble with getting toddlers to bed you should contact us and make a appointment.

Preschool (3 - 5 years): recommended 11 - 13 hours

As with toddlers, difficulty falling asleep and waking up during the night are very common. With further development of play and imagination, preschoolers commonly experience nighttime fears and nightmares. Again the same tips apply as i have said for toddlers.

  • Have a consistent bedtime routine and keep to the same bedtime each day
  • Download our bedtime sticker chart
  • Toddlers will push boundaries and try to stay up longer and ask for that an extra book to be read, or more cuddles so be strong and watch all the signs of them getting tired and take advantage of that window opportunity to get them to sleep on time.
  • If you are having a lot of trouble with getting toddlers to bed you should contact us and make a appointment.

School Age (5 - 10 years): recommended 10 - 11 hours

This age of 5- 10 years old gets tricky as their is more demand on their lives.  For most parents with children in this age brackets their is school, homework, sports and other social activities become a big part of life.  Also children become more interested in computers, TV, tablets, electronic gaming and the internet which close to bedtime can also lead to difficulty getting to sleep or disruptions to their sleep.

Sleep problems and disorders are prevalent at this age.  Also poor sleep at this age can lead to behaviour problems, such as hyperactivity and moodiness and cognitive problems and can impact on their ability to learn at school.

Teens (10 - 17 years): recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours

Again during this age group children have a lot of demand in their lives. For the most part their is a lot of time spent on schooling and studies, sports and at this age a lot more socialisation with peers. Also research shows that a high percentage of teens also invest a lot of time into social media, the internet, electronic gaming, portable gadgets, phones and the internet.  Recent studies also suggest that teen have a lot of disrupted sleep due phones being in rooms, access to social media before bed prolonging bedtime, TVs in bedrooms and small gadgets like iPads and iPods.

It is very important to minimise their time watching TVs and playing with gadgets before bed as this actually simulates the brain which prolongs rest.  Another suggestion would be to not let children sleep with their phone near them in their rooms. Not only do they get distracted using social media, texting and playing games during the night phones also have a small amount of radiation due to their wifi capabilities which isn't very good to sleep next too.

Other Sleep Tips:

1. Have a bedtime routine sticker chart on the fridge and follow it.

2. BE Firm... have a 'set in stone' bedtime and stick to it. Remind children 15 mins out that it's nearly bedtime and don't get caught in the "explanation" argument of why it's bedtime... it's just bedtime!!!

3. Establish a sequence in which each activity follows the other in a similar order every night. Predictable routines gives children a feeling of security and comfort.

4. Calm activities: At least 1 hour prior to bedtime slow down activities. No exercising, playing on computers/consoles, etc... the less stimulation the better and easier they will fall asleep.

5. Timer reminder: set the kitchen timer for 15-20 mins before set bedtime and when buzzer dings, you child knows to start the bedtime routine, toilet, wash hands, brush teeth... etc and by this time it will be bedtime.

6. Tuck your child in and read a story aloud and Speak with a soothing, calm voice. Sit close and snuggle with them whilst reading

7. After reading, cuddle, kiss and say goodnight. Leave whilst your child is still awake and obvious this varies between child to child though let them know your near by but avoid returning. If they don't want you to leave, remind them their will be plenty of mummy/daddy time tomorrow.

8. Relaxation CD's are the best!! Research shows that relaxation CDs are great at calming, relaxing and easing your child into sleep. We suggest using relaxation music from birth. These can be turned on when you leave the room. We have a great range of Dinosnores CDs in our Babysmiles online store. www.babysmiles.com.au/store

9. Generally when children learn to fall asleep without a parent there, they are better able to sleep through the entire night or go back to sleep easily when they do wake up. This goes for babies as well, learn to put your baby down half sleepy but still awake, avoid the rocking to sleep otherwise you will find it hard to break this cycle

10. Last tip for today: This is for Parents... Learn to relax yourself. Moods are contagious to those close to you and if you are tense, stressed or anxious these feelings can be absorbed by your children. Learn to model calmness around your child and definitely before bedtime...avoid yelling, screaming and negative behaviour as this won't make bedtime any easier for you or your child.

 

References:

Dr. Shelley Weiss, Better Sleep For Your Baby And Child

Mayo Clinic - Sleep Behaviours http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/AN01487

National Sleep Foundation Organisation, 2013

Touchette E, et al. Associations between sleep duration patterns and behavioral/cognitive functioning at school entry. Sleep.2007 Sep 1;30(9):1213-9.

University of Michigan Health Systems. What's there to know about sleeping? http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/yourchild/sleep.htm

 

 

 

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