School Age Children and Sleep.
When your child starts to school, it is important that he gets enough sleep. This is generally between nine and twelve hours. This is normally when children need to be monitored closely to make sure they are getting enough sleep so they can stay awake during the day.
How should you gauge whether your child is getting the amount of sleep they need? If your child can go to sleep within a few minutes of going to bed, wake up without a problem in the morning, and not feel tired all day long, they should be getting the right amount of sleep.
What About Teenagers?
Does your teen have trouble waking up in the morning? Do you have to wake them several times before they actually get up? If so, they are not getting the required amount of sleep to function properly. Sometimes it is the stress of dealing with a whole new set of rules for junior high and high school. Often the summer vacation will cause a teen to get turned around and they stay up later and sleep later.
The problems with teens sleeping habits are either due to not getting to bed early enough to get the right amount of sleep or a sleep disorder. If your teen goes to bed but cannot go to sleep and finds themselves lying awake at three in the morning, this definitely needs to be discussed with your doctor. A chronic sleep disorder can wreak havoc with your teens ability to function during the day.
Children Sleep Habits.
The sleep habits you teach your child can last throughout their life. Good sleep habits are learned at any early age, although it is never too late to start. If you view bedtime as a special time spent with your child rather than a chore, they will view it that way as well.
First make sure the desired bedtime finds your child through with homework or any other distraction that could keep him awake. The signs that he is ready to go to bed should be very obvious. This is when he starts to slow down and maybe rub his eyes. This should not be the time that you start the bedtime routine. This should be when he is in bed, ready to go to sleep.
Routine is the key to getting children to bed and asleep when their bedtime arrives. A schedule during the day will help your child to know what to expect and when. A bedtime routine will help; if it is story time, song time, cuddling time, or a back rub.
How Can I Help My Child (and Myself) Sleep Better? What are Some Strategies I Can Try?
Routine cannot be stressed enough. If your child has a routine that is followed every night, even when you are away, this will benefit the child as well as you. When they get in the habit of going to bed on time and staying asleep, you will get the rest you need too.
It may take several nights or even weeks to develop this routine. However, if you stick to it and do not give up easily, you should be able to set the pattern for the bedtime ritual. This will vary depending on your child. Finding what works is going to be a trial and error method. Another thing to remember is every child is different and what works for one might not necessarily work for another.
Strategies that have been tried and have proven effective when getting your child to sleep better are:
Sometimes a background noise such as a fan or even a CD of ocean sounds or something similar will reassure your child. If you start your baby with this when they are small it is a soothing sound similar to what they heard before they were born. A good amount of physical activity during the day will help them to burn off excess energy and when possible, fresh air will make them sleep better at night. When the bedtime ritual is started, make sure your lighting is dim. This will signal to the brain that rest time is imminent. Doing the opposite in the morning will help them to associate bright light with getting up for the day.
What are Nightmares and Night Terrors (Also Called Sleep Terrors) and How are They Different?
If you are a parent, you have been awakened at two in the morning to the sound of your child screaming at the top of their lungs. As you panic and try to focus on getting out of bed, fear clutching at your heart, just to find out he has had a nightmare and thinks there is a monster hiding under his bed. Every parent experiences this at one time or another. Usually when your child has a nightmare, they can be easily calmed and go back to sleep without much of a problem.
Night terrors are another matter entirely. The child suffering with night terrors may sit straight up, eyes open, with a terrified look on their face. Often screaming will accompany the night terrors and they are terrifying screams.. Night terrors differ from nightmares by the child being confused, inconsolable, and they may not know you. Profuse sweating, fast breathing, and a very rapid heart beat are all signs of night terrors.