If your child gets a good night’s sleep, so will you. Good sleep health for your child means getting the right amount and the right quality, if possible, every night.
The right amount of sleep
Children’s needs for sleep change over time. What works for a toddler is not the same as for a teen.
During sleep, we go through four stages, which include both non-Rapid Eye Movement or NREM sleep (quiet sleep, when energy is restored and tissues and muscles are repaired) and REM sleep, when our brains are active and we dream.
As adults, we move backwards and forwards through the full cycle about every 90 minutes. Babies spend about 50 minutes moving through the cycle but by the time your child is preschool age, he or she will be moving through the same sleep cycle as an adult.
A newborn baby sleeps around the clock, up to 18 hours a day. By six months, it is no longer necessary to give your baby night time feeds, which may help you to recover from those first sleepless weeks.
When your baby is about 18 months old, it is best to keep nap times to once a day for about 1-3 hours, and not to allow naps too close to bedtime. Most pre-schoolers should not need daytime naps after about 5 years.
Toddlers benefit from a full 12 hours sleep a night, and that’s true all the way until they reach about 12 years old. Even teens need 8-10 hours of good sleep, compared with 7-8 hours for an adult.
Read more about how much sleep your child needs.
A good night’s sleep
From about five years old watching TV, playing with computers and consuming caffeine products late in the day can all play their part in making it hard to get your child to sleep. TV and computers can also contribute to nightmares.
If your child is not getting enough sleep, he or she could be moody, hyperactive and find it hard to concentrate and learn at school. This is when it is vital to cultivate a good bedtime routine.
Find out more about getting your child to sleep like a baby.
Tips for a good sleep:
- Limit TV, caffeine (which is found in chocolate) and any other stimulants, especially close to bedtime.
- Make sure the bedroom isn’t too hot or too cold. Sheets during the summer and hot water bottles or socks during winter provide versatile options.
- Keep your child’s bedroom dark and quiet.
- A warm bath before bedtime might help to relax your child and put him or her in the right frame of mind to lie down.
- The bath can form a step in a set bedtime routine, which signals “sleep now”. Other steps can be a bedtime story, a cuddle and then lights off. It is a myth that a glass of milk makes you sleepy but it can form part of the bedtime ritual.
- Don’t make going to bed a punishment and staying up a reward.
- Don’t negotiate over bedtime, but let your young child make other choices, like what pajamas to wear or what bedtime story to read
- If everyone in the family makes sleep a priority, it will influence your child’s acceptance of it too.
The size of the bed, and the quality of the mattress, is important. Some children might need a bigger one than you would expect, because they stretch out and are restless sleepers. Let your child try out a variety of mattresses in the store to see what suits his or her sleeping position – the same mattress is not right for everyone.
A good option is Sealy’s new Singles range of mattresses which helps children to get the quality sleep they need for healthy physical and mental development. The mattresses have hypoallergenic properties, layers of pressure-relieving foam and Sealy’s exclusive double offset spring system. Sealy Singles are available in Firm, Medium and Plush comfort options and come with a mattress protector as well.
Supplied by Sealy