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How to understand that your child is not getting enough sleep and what to do about it

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Why you need to monitor your child's sleep amount

Because chronic lack of sleep in young children leads to delayed growth and mental development, speech formation and memory. At older ages, lack of quality sleep causes academic problems, mood swings and is often associated with bad habits and dangerous behavior.

Why a child may not get enough sleep

At first, parents are mostly responsible for the regime. But the older the child gets, the more the quantity and quality of sleep will depend on his behavior . There are also factors common to any age, such as illness or side effects of medications. One way or another, most often there is not enough sleep for several reasons, here are the most popular ones.

Due to personal choice

As you get older, there are many more fun things to do in life than sleep. Therefore, children try to delay bedtime as much as possible: first with the help of an endless cycle of “I want to drink - I want to pee,” then with the help of books, the phone and sitting at the computer half the night.

Due to unsuitable sleeping conditions

The room may be too hot, cold or light, and the TV or household appliances may be making noise behind the wall. In addition, sometimes very young brothers and sisters who wake up to eat or because of wet diapers interfere with sleep .

Due to poor sleep hygiene

Our habits and routine greatly influence our ability to relax and fall asleep. Children are disturbed by active games right before falling asleep, watching cartoons and sitting on the phone, and a hearty dinner. Even late baths excite the little ones.

Because of illness

Especially often, sleep is interfered with by a cold with a lingering cough or stuffy nose and allergies. This causes both children and adults to often wake up at night and generally sleep very poorly.

Due to medications taken

Some medications, such as epilepsy medications, have insomnia as a common side effect.

Due to sleep disorders

If everyone has a periodic lack of sleep, then sleep disorders are already a medical problem. These include insomnia, sleep apnea (or short-term pauses in breathing), restless leg syndrome, and other diseases.


How to tell if your child is not getting enough sleep

If you don't get enough sleep, fatigue will gradually build up. To prevent this, you need to make sure that the child sleeps for the amount of time he is supposed to. But children desperately resist this: either they are too young to say that they are tired, or too old to admit that it is time for them to go to bed. So you have to rely on signs of fatigue.

What distinguishes children from adult children is their tendency not to slow down, but to “ accelerate,” as it were. They may appear more active than usual when they are tired. Therefore, the longer it takes to fall asleep, the more difficult it will be to calm them down. This is especially true for kids.

The better you learn to notice the first signs of fatigue, the greater your chances of falling asleep peacefully without full-blown hysteria due to overwork.

In infancy

Breasts usually begin :

  • fuss, whine, be capricious;
  • “stick” to one point;
  • rub your eyes;
  • pull yourself by the ears;
  • to yawn.

In preschool age

Tired toddlers and preschoolers turn into something completely unbearable: they are capricious and contradictory. The fact is that they feel bad, but they don’t know how to help themselves, and they get more and more excited. In addition to the crying, yawning and eye rubbing that is common in babies, they also:

  • become very sticky ;
  • behave hyperactively in the middle of the night or during naps;
  • quickly become irritated and lose their temper;
  • interact worse with peers or parents.

At primary school age

At school, lack of sleep looks a little different. Child:

  • has difficulty waking up in the morning and asks to reset the alarm clock several times;
  • experiences frequent mood swings;
  • concentrates worse on tasks and studies worse;
  • looks tired and sleepy for a long time after waking up;
  • sleeps long on weekends and takes a nap during the day .

During adolescence

In adolescents, the symptoms are generally the same as in younger schoolchildren, but they include risky behavior, such as skipping to sleep. In addition, children with chronic sleep deprivation are more likely to engage in fights and take alcohol and illicit substances.

How to improve your child's sleep

Quality sleep requires a comfortable environment and a proper sleep routine.

Create comfortable sleeping conditions

To sleep well , the room must have :

  • darkness (but you can leave a night light);
  • silence;
  • cool comfortable temperature (about 20 degrees);
  • comfortable mattress, pillow and bed linen.

Determine how much sleep your child needs

The need for sleep differs depending on age.

Age Number of hours
from 4 to 12 months 12–16 hours (day and night sleep)
from 1 year to 2 years 11–14 hours (day and night sleep)
from 3 to 5 years 10–13 hours (day and night sleep)
from 6 to 12 years 9–12 hours
from 13 to 18 years old 8–10 hours

You need to focus on these values, but in the end, everything will depend on the individual child: pay attention not only to the norms but also to the signs of fatigue.

Stick to a sleep schedule

To fall asleep quickly, it is better to adhere to daily rituals, that is, repeating steps. For example, for a toddler, it could be:

  1. Bathing.
  2. Teeth cleaning.
  3. Putting on pajamas.
  4. Reading before bed.
  5. Embrace.
  6. A special wish before going to bed.

And every evening at a certain time you repeat these steps with your child. It is important to adhere to this regime not only on weekdays but also on weekends and holidays.

It's best to avoid screens or active games for at least 30-60 minutes before falling asleep. It is also better to limit sweets and caffeinated soda in the evening, and not go to bed right after a heavy dinner.

When to see a doctor due to lack of sleep

If you have already tried all the ways to improve your sleep, but the problem continues, it may be time to contact your pediatrician. Especially if you notice these signs:

  • excessive anxiety, fear and whims before falling asleep;
  • snore;
  • frequent unexplained awakenings at night;
  • bedwetting, especially after 7 years;
  • excessive daytime sleepiness, even if there was enough sleep at night.



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