Even though they always say that they’re not tired, kids need a lot of sleep! Most of all, they need it to help them grow - growth hormone that’s released when sleeping can help a child grow big and strong, as well as repair their muscles and make any cuts and bruises heal a lot quicker. And let’s face it, even though you love spending time with your child during the day, it’s really nice to have some time alone when they’ve gone off to bed!
But sometimes getting a child to sleep, as well as sleep straight through the night, can be the hardest thing in the world. Your child might hate bedtimes, and cry and stamp their feet when they have to go to bed. They might also repeatedly get out of bed, and you can catch them playing with their toys, or maybe they simply come along to spend more time with you. And whilst this is a nice thing, in theory, it’s simply not good for their health.
What causes a lack of sleep?
If your son or daughter has been acting differently lately, it could be a sign they’re not getting enough sleep - but why? You’ve noticed sudden mood swings, as well as poor concentration, and they’ve also been falling asleep at preschool or in the car or indeed, anywhere that isn’t their own bed. Maybe they can no longer jump out of bed in the morning the way they used to? Maybe they’re falling asleep long before their actual bedtime comes?
And because you’ve noticed all of these signs, you’re now worried that they’re losing energy or might have something else going on in their life that you’re not aware of. Could they be worried about something? Could they even have a sleep disorder of some kind?
But before you get into a bit of a panic, the first thing to do is check on how well they’re sleeping. It’s important to remember that kids can have trouble sleeping when they’re young, so there may not even be a background issue at all. Similarly, a doctor will always ask about their sleep disturbance symptoms, so if you can, check on your child periodically throughout the night, and see what’s going on.
For example, snoring can be an indicator that your child’s sleep quality isn’t up to scratch. But seeing as snoring is relatively normal for a lot of people, keep an eye on the nights when they snore, and if they have any troubles during the day afterwards. They could also be wetting the bed more often than they should be, or maybe sleep problems stem from an eating issue they’re currently going through. We all know kids are fussy!
But could it be Insomnia?
Insomnia can happen at any stage in life, and it can cause a lot of problems for adults, teens, and children alike. However, when you’ve got a young child on your hands who needs all the sleep they can get, insomnia can be extremely troubling!
If your child has had regular sleep disturbances, and multiple nights a week they’re either not getting to sleep or seem to be waking up a lot, it could be a sign that your child has a long-term difficulty like this. But insomnia doesn’t have to be the end of a normal sleep cycle!
Helping your child to settle down at night
So, once you know there’s a bedtime issue, what can you do to help your child settle down at night? Well, there isn’t really a one size fits all answer here. You just have to watch out for a few things in your child’s day to day routine that could be interrupting their nighttime routine. And always talk to a doctor first about your concerns! But in the meantime, there are a few ideas you could put to good use here:
Bed is for bedtime only: If your child likes to play or read in bed, try to divert them to using a chair or a sofa instead. Otherwise, they’ll start thinking of their bed as a free for all area, rather than just for resting, which can make it hard to get to sleep in it!
Keep bedtime the same: Of course, it’s nice to let your child stay up a little later on weekends, but if they’re having trouble sleeping, try to keep this time the same for the foreseeable future. Getting into a routine is the best way to help your child settle down.
Vary nap cycles: Kids need to have an afternoon nap when they’re under the age of 5, and most kids will continue to settle down for an afternoon siesta until they’re 7 or 8. However, watch when your child is taking a nap, and how long for - either one of these factors could be putting them off bedtime!
Just waste a bit more energy!: Kids love getting to run around and play games, so why not push this to the max? Really wear your child out before bedtime, but make sure you leave a gap of at least 2 hours between exercise and getting ready for bed. You don’t want to wind them up further!
Children can have trouble getting to sleep for a lot of reasons. But most of the time, you’ve got nothing to worry about - children have a lot of natural energy, and that can make them loathe having to hit the hay every night! Simply keep an eye on their bedtime behaviours, and if you notice any long-term disturbances, ask a doctor for their advice on the situation.