HERE’S HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD SLEEP WELL

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help your child sleep well

The little Shyam is glued to the T.V, watching his favourite cartoon channel at 10’O clock at night.  His mom who wants Shyam to go to sleep enters, turns off the T.V. and forcibly takes him to the bedroom, and tries to make him sleep. But Shyam who was upset at the interruption of his cartoon watching shrieks out angrily, “No, Mama. I want to watch TV. I do not want to sleep now.” So today we are talking about how to help your child sleep well.

This is a scene that every parent is quite familiar with, isn’t it? For almost all the parents, getting their little ones to sleep at night is a laborious task. They always complain that kids hardly obey them. But have you ever stepped into the shoes of your kid and thought how you would respond, if someone forcefully drags you off to bed while you are totally engrossed in reading an interesting magazine article? Obviously, you would not like it, would you? The same is the case with children. But this does not mean that you can compromise on your kid’s sleep. Remember peaceful sleep is one of the precious gifts that you can give to your child. It will pretty difficult to precisely pinpoint the specific duration of sleep that a child needs. It varies from one age group to another. However, experts in child psychology usually prescribe that pre-schoolers need about 11 to 12 hours of sleep each day, which can include a nap. A good sleep can benefit your kid in different ways, the most important one among them being the enhancement of the kid’s growth.  Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C says, “Growth hormone is primarily secreted during deep sleep.” Studies also show that good sleep protects kids from vascular damage. The benefits of sound sleep are countless. But how should we inculcate in our kids the habit of going to sleep on time? Do not worry about that. Here are some tips for you.  

“Children with sleep disorders have excessive brain arousal during sleep, which can trigger the fight-or-flight response hundreds of times each night. Their blood glucose and cortisol remain elevated at night. Both are linked to higher levels of diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease,” opines Jeffrey Durmer, M.D., Ph.D., a sleep specialist and researcher in Atlanta.

TIPS TO HELP YOUR CHILD SLEEP WELL

So, this is the first tip to put your kid to sleep: Do not ever try to drag the child off to sleep, if he is absorbed in something. Rather, fix a regular bedtime for your little one and make it a point to stick to it every day. If there is a programme on TV which your child wants to watch regularly, make sure that you schedule the kid’s bedtime after that. Do not think that your child will completely agree to this arrangement initially. So make this appear as if your child’s own decision. For example, when your kid’s bedtime approaches, ask the child, “Baby, do you want to go to bed now or after five minutes?” Here the child gets an opportunity to choose between two options. This gives him a feeling that he is the one who fixes his bedtime, not the parent. In connection with going to sleep, you need to train the kid to do a whole lot of other things also. The foremost thing is toilet-training. Before the child goes to sleep, you should toilet-train him. Take your child to toilet and ask him to brush his teeth, and relieve himself. Then help him wash his face, legs and hands. This will refresh the child, and will help to have a sound sleep. Make sure that you help the kid follow this routine regularly.  As days go by, this routine will become a cue for the child to go to sleep.

What about the room that the child sleeps in? Make sure that the room is dark and quiet, and the noise level in the house is low. If your child does not like a totally dark room keep a small light on. Some kids are afraid to sleep alone. In that case, lie down with your child till he is falling asleep or you can leave the door ajar and promise the kid that you will be near the kid. You can read a story, or engage him in pleasant idle talk, leading him gently to sleep. At times, you can sing a rhyme for the kid and ask him to repeat it thereby slowly guiding him to a sound sleep. But make sure everything that you say to the kid during bedtime is pleasant and positive. At times, you can play a soothing music in the kid’s room. Let him listen to it and have a sound sleep. Sometimes, parents will scare the kids to get them to the bed by saying that the ghost will come and kidnap the kid. Sleep is supposed to be sound and peaceful and it should not come from the scare-element.  Just before the child sleeps, sing a prayer or a rhyme gently and say good night to him. Repeat this every night and gradually it will become a cue for the child to close his eyes. You can even invent a fun game to make the child fall asleep. For example, you can award the child a star for each day that he goes to bed on time. After three stars, give him a prize.

The Amount of Sleep Children in Different Age-group Need?

This is an estimate of the duration of sleep that a child ideally get according to their age group. Newborn-2 months
Total Sleep: 16-18 hours
Nighttime Sleep: 8-9 hours
Naps: 7-9 hours (3-5 naps)

2-4 months
Total Sleep: 14-16 hours
Nighttime Sleep: 9-10 hours
Naps: 4-5 hours (3 naps)

4-6 months
Total Sleep: 14-15 hours
Nighttime Sleep: 10 hours
Naps: 4-5 hours (2-3 naps)

6-9 months
Total Sleep: 14 hours
Nighttime Sleep: 10-11 hours
Naps: 3-4 hours (2 naps)

9-12 months
Total Sleep: 14 hours
Nighttime Sleep: 10-12 hours
Naps: 2-3 hours (2 naps)

12-18 months
Total Sleep: 13-14 hours
Nighttime Sleep: 11-12 hours
Naps: 2-3 hours (1-2 naps)

18 months – 2 years
Total Sleep: 13-14 hours
Nighttime Sleep: 11 hours
Naps: 2 hours (1 nap)

2-3 years
Total Sleep: 12-14 hours
Nighttime Sleep: 10-11 hours
Naps: 1-2 hours (1 nap)

3-5 years
Total Sleep: 11-13 hours
Nighttime Sleep: [10-11] 10-13 hours
Naps: 0-1 hours (naps usually stop by age 5)

5-12 years
Total Sleep: 10-11 hours
Nighttime Sleep: 10-11 hours
Naps: n/a

 Read More: Failure-It’s all part of the game!

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SREENATH V S
Sreenath V.S is a doctoral student of English in the department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. He was the sub-editor of the English division of Malayala Manorama Publications from 2013-2014, and is also a columnist the magazine Balarama Digest. His interest areas include child psychology, children’s literature, translation studies, and the philosophy of literature and language.

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