Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Children and Sleep

I've gotten a lot of questions over the years ranging from parents wondering why their child has behavior problems, doesn't perform well in school or seems agitated and unable to concentrate a lot.  One of the first things I ask is how much do they sleep?  A lot of times that is the problem - the child doesn't get enough sleep. Sleep is so vital for children and adults.  If I don't get past 7 hours of sleep, I don't perform well or feel well and I get sick more.  I've found that when I have good sleep habits, I don't get sick as often, I feel great and accomplish a lot and I'm not grumpy.  The same goes for our children.

I was reading an article on Dr. Weil today about this and then saw the National Sleep Foundation has a list of how many hours children need.  You can find it here:

http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/children-and-sleep

When my daughter was 3 months old, she was sleeping 12 hours every night and then 2-3 hours of naps throughout the day.  I did something similar to the Ferber method and it taught her to self-soothe to return to sleep and not be dependent on us to fall back asleep.  It worked within 5 days and from then on, she never has had sleep problems and didn't cry when I put her in the crib at bedtime and she didn't wake up during the night crying.  She also didn't get sick at all until she was 2 years old.  I contribute that to her getting enough sleep every night.  When a lot of other parents were having sick babies and dealing with ear infections and babies up at all hours of the night, I wasn't.  Looking back now, I really believe it was mostly because she was getting the sleep she needed.

Naps generally are not needed for children from age 4 and on and that is about the time Katie stopped needing naps as well.  She continued to sleep 12 hours a night until she was about 5 and now only needs 10-11 hours of sleep a night, which is the recommended sleep for children ages 5-12.

If you have a child with learning or behavioral problems or is sickly more than average, first look at how much sleep they are getting.  It does make a difference!

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