If your preschooler is experiencing some inappropriate and unpleasant behaviour, such as whining, crying, or getting angry, they may not be getting sufficient sleep. Hyperactive, irritable, aggressive, and impulsive behaviour frequently indicate a lack of sleep. The toddler years are a critical period for developing physical abilities and motor skills. Lack of sleep in your toddler can affect their ability to grow and learn. More of the human growth hormone is released when a toddler sleeps. Additionally, lack of sleep affects a toddler ability to focus and learn from their daily activities.
Sleep Is Important for Recharging
A toddler’s life is very busy and filled with stimulation. Your little one needs a good night’s sleep to recharge and prepare for the next busy day. Daytime naps also help your child recharge. Many toddlers change from taking two short naps to one longer nap, a natural childhood transition. As long as they are still getting enough sleep, this change is fine.
Sleep Is Important for Your Child’s Immune System
Adequate sleep helps your child have a well-functioning immune system. Your toddler needs adequate rest to be able to fight childhood illnesses, such as the common cold and viruses. A well-rested body is capable of providing this vital protection.
The Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep
Watch for signs that your child is not getting enough sleep.
• Do you have to wake them up in the morning?
• Do they fall asleep during the day?
• Are they irritable, angry, or argumentative?
All of these are signs your child is not getting enough sleep. Sometimes you will see inappropriate behaviour mid-morning or afternoon, an indication your child is ready for a nap.
Tips for Ensuring a Good Night’s Sleep for Your Toddler
• Encourage physical activity during the daytime.
Being physically active creates a toddler ready for rest at nap and bed times.
• Establish a bedtime routine
Start about 30 minutes before it is time to go to sleep and follow the same routine every day.
• Keep consistent bedtimes.
Having the same sleep and wake times every day regulates your toddler’s sleep cycle.
• Make sure the bedtime is relatively early.
Research indicates major brain development occurs in the earlier hours of the evening.
• Avoid electronics or any brain-stimulating activity immediately before bedtime.
An over-stimulated brain has trouble slowing down and preparing for sleep.
• Provide a comfortable, age-appropriate sleep space.
Have a bed designed for a toddler with bed coverings that provide enough warmth.
• Avoid sugar and caffeinated drinks for a few hours before bedtime.
Foods and beverages high in sugar and caffeine are never good for your toddler, but especially close to bedtime, as they can prevent the onset of restful sleep.
• It is not advisable to lie down with your toddler to encourage sleep. Doing so establishes a routine that is very hard to break.
Every toddler is different, and you must consider the needs of your own child when you decide how many hours of sleep they need and the best bed and bedtime for them. However, make sure they get enough total sleep each day. Doing so will help your child be rested, happy, and ready for the day ahead.