Sufficient sleep is particularly important for children, as many of their body's growth processes take place at night and they need this time to regenerate and process the impressions of the day. However, your child may postpone going to bed, refuse to go to bed completely, or wake up frequently in the middle of the night. We have put together some advice on how you can tell whether your child suffers from sleep problems and what you can do about them.
This is how sleep problems manifest themselves in children
There are several ways your child may experience sleep problems. A hint is for example if they have frequent nightmares or are afraid of the monster under their bed before going to sleep. A counterpart to this is the night terrors in children. Usually this occurs in the first half of sleep. Your child is not responsive because they are in a deep sleep. Even so, they may scream, thrash, and be sweaty with fear. Typically, these types of sleep problems are harmless, even if they can seem very threatening to you as a parent.
Nightly movements in the form of sleepwalking can also indicate a less restful sleep. If this should happen, you can gently accompany your sweetheart back to their bed. Make sure that all windows and doors are locked during the night so that nothing can happen to your child during a sleepwalking episode.
Another form of a sleep problem is bed wetting. Most of the time, however, this takes care of itself as your child grows up. As they are ashamed to be wetting, your emotional support is particularly important for them when it happens.
Occasionally, children may experience reduced breathing or respiratory arrest. These symptoms are known as childhood sleep apnea. The causes of these disorders can include narrowed airways or being overweight. The breathing pauses briefly supply the brain with less oxygen, which means that it repeatedly sends wake-up signals to the body. As a result, your child can be tired, unfocused or jittery during the day. If you observe these signs, it can make sense to have sleep apnea checked in a sleep laboratory so that your child does not experience any developmental or growth delays.
Here's what you can do about your child's sleep problems
With little effort, you can help your child fall asleep better and sleep through the night. Fixed bedtime rituals are a tried and tested method. You can for example read something, listen to the radio play or just cuddle with them. These rituals have a calming effect on your child and signal that it is time to fall asleep.
In addition to a bedtime ritual, it makes sense if you stick to a fixed structure during your day. This frame gives your little one security, because they know when to eat, play or sleep.
It can also help them if you create good bedtime conditions in their room. To do this, you can turn off annoying light sources, avoid noise such as a television or computer and ensure a pleasant room temperature of 19 degrees Celsius. If your darling is afraid of the dark, you can put a night light in their room and give them a cuddly toy in bed. This makes them feel secure and can fall asleep better. Furthermore, sufficient exercise in the fresh air can have a positive effect on your child's sleep.
Sleep problems don't always have a serious background. Sometimes they are also the result of certain phases of development or of emotional stress. However, if they occur more frequently, you can consult a doctor. They can give you additional tips by which you can sleep restfully again.