All parents know about the importance of a quality sleep for their child. The question is particularly important for younger children.
From a medical point of view, sleep is a physiological, recurrent, and reversible state of no contact with the outside world, which is a normal part of everyone’s life. Sleep and wakefulness are observed as early as in the prenatal period; a baby is even able to see dreams as early as 28 weeks! Newborns usually sleep 18-20 hours a day. During the first year of life children begin to organize sleeping and waking into longer periods. So, the transition from a 3-4 hour «sleep-wake» cycle to the predominance of wakefulness during the day with two periods of sleep is normal. The age of «outgrowing» daytime sleep can vary, but generally children continue to sleep in the afternoon up to 4 or 5 years of age.
Causes of sleep disorders
The most common cause of sleep disturbances in infancy is a child’s stomach discomfort and teething. Insomnia can also be caused by mistakes in the upbringing of the child – sometimes parents themselves create a situation that can result in sleep disorders.
In medicine, elementary school students are considered the perfect model of good sleep: they willingly fall asleep, sleep until spontaneous awakening, remain active and cheerful all day, and don’t need day sleep or stimulants (such as caffeine).
In adolescence, especially during puberty, physiological changes can sometimes lead to sleep disorders. In high school, intensive studying along with mobile phones, computer and video games can lead to the a so-called «daytime sleepiness epidemic».
How to help your child sleep better?
• Ensure a consistent time of going to bed;
• Do not give your child chocolate or carbonated drinks before going to sleep;
• Give the child 20-30 minutes to prepare for sleep;
• Do not let TV, videos or computer replace a child communicating with you or others;
• Try to limit the number of movies, programs and video games not appropriate for the child’s age during the day.
The better the child sleeps, the happier the family feels!