Any parent can tell you a horror story about trying to get their child to sleep. Whether this is the odd night or a more longstanding problem, sleeping issues can be one of the most disruptive things in a household.
So it will come as no surprise to parents that there is growing awareness of the true benefits of comfortable and regular sleep for children. According to the Sleep Council, establishing good sleep patterns make a real contribution to a child’s development, learning and growth both on a physical and emotional level. A lack of it can cause hyperactive, disagreeable and extremes in behaviour. By the age of two, most children have spent more time asleep than awake and overall, a child will spend 40% of his or her childhood asleep.
There is however, an awful lot of information out there to digest on sleep, whilst no doubt your friends and family will all have their have their own views and experiences to add to the pot. So what is the best way to approach all this advice?
The NHS quotes “There’s no magical number of hours of sleep that all children in a particular age group need” and goes onto say that “Charts listing the hours of sleep needed by children can cause concern when individual differences aren’t considered.”
AVERAGE SLEEP NEEDS
Newborns (0-2 months)
12 – 18
Infants (3 months to 1 year)
14 – 15
Toddlers (1 to 3 years)
12 – 14
Preschoolers (3 to 5 years)
11 – 13
School-aged children (5 to 12 years)
10 – 11
Teens and preteens (12 to 18 years)
8.5 – 10
7.5 – 9
Source: National Sleep Foundation
The Sleep Council however is happy to publish average figures as a guideline (see table above). Here they quote healthy adults as needing between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best, whilst children and teens need even more.
We could go on – however the message that is clear is to accept that sleep requirements WILL vary slightly from child to child and it’s also important to factor in any relevant differences.
Whilst establishing exact hours of sleep per age group may be a fact that all the specialists will never agree on, their opinions are absolutely consistent in terms of getting your child to sleep. Routine matters. A regular, calm and gentle bedtime routine, repeated at the same time every night, pays dividends and is vital for creating good sleep habits. It’s also essential that you put your child to sleep in the place they’ll spend the night. This makes the connection for your child between their bed, their bedroom and sleep that will encourage going to sleep there. We know as adults that a well decorated bedroom can aid sleep, so why shouldn’t it be the same for a child’s bedroom? Childrens beds and the general bedroom furniture and atmostphere are crucial to sleep patterns.
We hope some of these facts and tips may aid restful sleep in your household – sweet dreams!