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Sleep, anyone?

Who needs sleep? Everyone

Tantrums, defiance, lack of attention and focus... Sound familiar? Or maybe you just want to improve your routine. Bedtime is sometimes a battle with children, but it doesn’t have to be.

The key to it all? Consistent and reasonable routines.

Some questions that we might have as parents and caregivers is “How many hours does my child need?” or “Do I start at the time stated or is that when they are supposed to be sleeping?”.

AGE DAILY SLEEP NAPS/day

(includes all naps and overnight)

1-12 months --------------------------14-16 hours ----------------------------------------- 2-4

1-3y ----------------------------------12-14 hours ------------------------------------------ 1

3-6y ----------------------------------10-12 hours ------------------------------------------ 1

7-12y ---------------------------------10-12 hours ------------------------------------------ 0

AVOID:

  • Stimulating activity, foods and beverages (television, iPad/games, chocolate, caffeine, etc.)

  • Lingering or returning to their room after lights out for any reason

DO:

  • Be consistent and concise

  • Keep it short and start early (15-30 minutes is sufficient for children under 5y)

  • Consistency will help to develop a solid routine. For example, if you spend 5 minutes reading a book before lights out every night, it will become an expectation rather than a surprise- your child will come to know that first you read, then it is time for sleep.


  • Offer choice

  • Too many choices can be over stimulating; Offer 2 books, 2 pyjamas, etc.


  • Be prepared

  • Security items like blankies or stuffies, nightlight


  • Allow quiet time before starting your routine

  • A chance to wind down from the day before the routine will help their body ease in to sleep mode. This will also create muscle memory over time and the child will naturally know when sleep time is all on their own.


Why is this so important? Sleep, or lack thereof, affects daily functioning and overall development.

DOMAIN SYMPTOMS

Physical -------------------------------- General weakness/fatigue, pain, loss of appetite

Cognitive ------------------------------- Slow thought processes, confusion, forgetfulness

Socio-emotional ---------------------- Lack of joy, tantrums, depression

In the most extreme cases of sleep deprivation health problems can be extensive and leave chronic impairments in one or all of these areas.

Don't complicate it: The important things to try and include are teeth, toilet, washing hands/face, a book, and kisses.

Most importantly: Don’t stress. It will happen when it happens, and rushing things or getting frustrated is counterproductive. The goal is to see progress over time (days or weeks) and set realistic goals for your family.

- Tabatha Carlson

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