Nothing hurts you more than discovering that your child is suffering from a health disorder. You don’t want to see your baby struggling with a health concern. It is tough for any parent to find out that their tiny tot has a sleep disorder and struggles to fall asleep at night. Unfortunately, statistics tell that nearly 30% of children suffer from a sleep disorder. Fortunately, sleeping problems in children can be treated successfully if diagnosed early.
How Much Sleep Does Your Child Need?
Sleeping requirements for children vary depending on their age. Let us see how much sleep your baby needs.
- For a 4-week-old newborn, 16-17 hours of sleep is normal. The wakefulness periods last 1-3 hours.
- Babies aged 1-4 months tend to sleep about 16-17 hours a day. This is the time their night/day sleep cycles may start. This means they may start sleeping longer at night.
- Babies aged 4 -12 months require 14-15 hours of sleep a day. This means they should sleep all through the night and take 3-4 naps during the day.
- Toddlers aged 1-3 years must sleep for about 12-14 hours a day.
- Children aged 3-6 years need at least 11-12 hours of a good quality sleep.
- A 7-12 year-old kid needs 10-12 hours of sleep.
- Teenagers need about 8-10 hours of sleep.
Signs of Children Sleeping Problems
Do you see symptoms of sleep disorder in your child? Sleep is crucial to everyone’s health, and children need to sleep for a longer duration to aid their mental and physical development. Kids that get little sleep during the night are prone to behavioral problems, irritability, anger, confusion, and low self-esteem.
Here are a few symptoms of sleep disorders in children:
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
If your child feels overly tired and sleepy during the day, chances are that he is not getting a good quality sleep at night. A night of sleeplessness may often be accompanied by daytime drowsiness. If you find that daytime sleepiness is regular in your child, then it could be linked to a sleep disorder.
Your child may be suffering from insomnia if he often complains about not getting a proper sleep or has trouble falling or staying asleep. It could be a sign of insomnia if he wakes much earlier than normal. A child may suffer from insomnia due to pain, stress, or psychiatric condition.
Snoring is a common cause of sleeplessness in children and adults alike. It could be due to nasal congestion or partial blockage in the airway, enlarged adenoids, or tonsils. This means that oxygen is not reaching lungs properly.
A few kids suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, which may be caused by the aforementioned reasons, resulting in sleeping problems in children.
Occasional nightmares are not a cause for concern. However, if the frequency of nightmares is too often, then your child may not experience a comfortable sleep for the fear of waking up terrified from frightening dreams. This could lead to a sleep disorder. Frequent waking up can disturb his sleeping cycle and cause anxiety and behavioral problems. After the age of 10, the frequency of nightmares may start to taper off in your child.
Sleepwalking Too A Problem
A common sleeping disorder in children, sleepwalking does not wake a child up from sleep, even though he leaves the bed while still asleep in the middle of the night. Children who sleepwalk have their eyes wide open and mumble unintelligible utterances while walking. A child may sleep walk for 5-15 minutes or longer.
It’s a mistake to wake a sleepwalker, as it may create confusion and fear in their mind. The reason is that even a sleepwalker is unaware of what he is doing.
Bedwetting Not A Sleep Disorder
A common problem among young kids, bedwetting is not a sleep disorder in the literal sense unless your child is aged five years or more and wets his bed 2 times a week.
The reason could be a developmental problem, stress, low bladder control, or family history of bedwetting.
Treating Sleeping Problems in Children
- When your child is suffering from sleep disorders, try to comfort him before bedtime. It’s a good idea to play hide-n-seek during the day time so that your child feels comfortable even when the lights are out.
- Do not let them sleep with the light on, because research reveals that bright lights can diminish the quality of sleep and disturb the release of melatonin – the sleep-regulating hormone in the body.
- A calming, soothing bedroom environment is required for quality sleep. So turn the lights off. You may dim the lights if your child insists on getting the lights on.
- Establish a sleeping routine, which includes a series of regular activities that your child does before bedtime. Make sure the routine is religiously followed to ensure that your child does not experience any sleeping problems.
- A relaxation bedtime routine can help soothe your baby’s mind and body and help him get a good quality sleep.
- Do not allow them to eat or drink products with stimulants before bedtime. These may include chocolate, caffeine, or decongestants.
- Associate the bed with sleep if your child is experiencing sleeping problems. By doing so, you are sending strong signals to your child and his body that the bed is meant only for sleeping. This means he cannot use it to play on or watch television in. However, if sleep continues to be elusive, then he may need some medical help.
Sleep disorders in children can be disturbing and upsetting for both parents and the child, leading to all kinds of behavioral problems. If your child shows symptoms of a sleep disorder, understand that it is urgent and he needs immediate medical attention.
Ravneet also blogs at www.wellnessguide.com