Getting a good night sleep is important for everyone in the family. If children aren’t sleeping well then neither is anyone else in the household. An adequate amount of good quality sleep is so important as it provides the body and the mind with the down time it needs to repair and restore itself.
Research has found poor sleep quality can affect a child’s growth and also their immune system. Lack of sleep will also affect their ability to reason and to cope with stress, sometimes resulting in unmanageable behaviour. Memory, concentration and co-ordination are also affected by fatigue. This can result in problems with learning and participating in the classroom.
So how much sleep is enough? Remember every child is different and this is a guide only.
- Newborn – 16 hours a day, waking every 3-4 hours for feeding.
- 6 months – 11 hours night time sleep and 2 x 1.5 hour naps during the day
- 1 year – 11 hours night sleep and 2 x 1 hour naps during the day
- 3 years – 11 hours night sleep and a 1-2 hour nap during the day
- 5 to 13 years – 9 to 11 hours night sleep
- Teenagers – 9 to 9.5 hours night sleep
There are many underlying issues which can affect a child’s ability to have quality sleep. Those which can be investigated and treated by a naturopath include:
- Reflux and colic
- Food sensitivities and intolerances
- Teeth grinding
- Growing pains / restless leg syndrome.
- Behavioural sleep disorders
- Nutritional deficiencies
Sometimes there is no underlying problem and it’s a matter of training children into good sleep habits. Perhaps the most important thing is to set a bed time and stick to it. Your child should be sleepy but not asleep when you put them to bed. Also set a bedtime routine such as a warm bath before bed and a story. Avoid any activity that involves a screen – TV, ipad, phone or computer – in the hour before bed. Don’t play boisterous or physical games in the hour before bed. These activities are too stimulatory and don’t allow the child to get into a relaxed state for sleep. If these simple measures don’t work you may need to consider consulting a sleep specialist who can help to identify your specific problems and provide solutions. Remember it’s important everyone in the household gets good sleep.
If you are having trouble with your child and their sleep routine please come and see us.