Does your child have problems sleeping?
Is bedtime a battle in your home? The end of a long exhausting day for you and your child – and your child is fighting that sleep every step of the way. The exact reason your child is working hard to stay awake is exactly the reason why sleep is so important to their well being, but how do you explain that to a 3 year old? You can’t, but we have some suggestions on how you can manage your child’s sleep problems.
Why is sleep so important for your child?
At teli, our Occupational Therapists have become very familiar with child sleep disorders as part of our work in Early Intervention. Studies have indicated the importance of sleep in children, particularly in children with developmental delays. As we all can appreciate, the impact of sleep deprivation comes through in our inability to focus or our lack of patience. Combine your sleep deprivation with your child, and their emotional meltdown in the grocery store, it’s hard to manage.
The lack of sleep is the biggest risk for children’s long term learning. A child’s brain develops at such an accelerated rate in those early years and sleep is essential to be sure that foundational learning can occur. All of a child’s experiences in short term provide the building blocks of long-term learning. Without sufficient rest, a child’s ability to “cement” those experiences in their brain does not occur.
How much sleep does my child need?
While every child is different, sleep requirements are significant in those early years for infants and toddlers. For some children with developmental delays, the need is even greater, as they are working hard to grasp concepts and behaviors as part of their Early Intervention. By insuring that they are getting the rest they need, you are helping those children with sleep problems maximize their learning and setting them up for success.
The following information provides basic guidelines, based on a combination of naps and nighttime sleep time, for reaching the totals – which are essential for recharging and igniting their learning capacity, dependent on your child’s age:
What are some tips to avoid the Bedtime Battles?
Our Occupational therapists often see children and parents facing challenges at bedtime. In those incidences, they have seen the most success with the following techniques for children with sleep problems:
- Quiet playtime activities to prepare for bedtime can send the right bedtime signals to your child. Preparing their stuffed animals for bedtime, saying “Good Night” and tucking in their stuffed animals for the night can help to begin the transition to bedtime. Additionally, involving your child in room clean up provides a clutter free environment can reinforce an ending to the day and a preparation for tomorrow.
- Consistent bedtime rituals or routines are essential to prepare the child for sleep. Creating a calming environment in the bedroom by dimming the lights and snuggling up with your child to read two books of their choice. A gentle back or foot massage can help continue to relax and calm your child.
- Banish the electronics for at least 90 minutes prior to bedtime. The blue light emitted by the TV, iPad or even your phone provides stimulation that simulated daylight and sends the wrong message to your child.
- Comfortable room environment can play a large role in helping children with sleep problems. A dark room with a non-blue night light at a cool temperature of 68 degrees is recommended.