Q) How much sleep does my child need?
A) The most important sleep is night time consolidated sleep. Your goal should be 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted/consolidated sleep.
Q) How long do they need this for? Until what age?
A) Until they stop growing! Age 18. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Q) How much sleep do they need in the day?
A) The older they get, the less they need. Up to age 3, the more they sleep during the day, the more they will sleep at night. Sleep begets sleep. It is not logical, but it is biological. Naps do not start to interfere with night time sleep until close to your child’s third birthday. When this time comes, it is also better that they get 12 hours at night versus 9 hours at night plus 3 hours during the day for a total of 12.
Q) Why don’t some babies and children sleep well? Is it genetic? I don’t sleep well, so I think that’s why my child doesn’t.
A) It is not genetic. Sleep is actually a skill that we all learn like walking, talking and crawling. The earlier we learn it, the better and it is and it is NEVER too late. Those babies and children who don’t sleep well have not yet developed a solid internal strategy to get to sleep. They rely on an external strategy to help them. Then, when they wake up early from a nap or in the night, they are unable to get back to sleep on their own.
Q) How is sleep a skill?
A) Think of sleep as a journey. Point A you are awake and Point B you are asleep. Every time you go to sleep, you take that journey.
Q) What is an internal strategy to sleep?
A) This is when a person can take that journey all on their own. They do not need assistance to get to sleep.
Q) What is an example of an external strategy to sleep?
A) This is when a baby or child needs someone or something – also known as a SLEEP PROP to help them get to sleep. Think of a prop as a vehicle. It helps the baby or the child take that journey from being awake to asleep. Then, when they wake up from a partial arousal or a full arousal, they need someone and/or something to take that journey back to sleep.
Q) What are some examples of sleep props?
A) The most common ones are nursing a baby to sleep, using a bottle to get a baby or toddler to sleep, rocking and bouncing your little ones to sleep, using a soother, using the car seat, using the stroller, using a swing. For older children, the parent becomes the prop. They need Mom or Dad in the room in order to fall asleep. It could simply be Mom sitting in the chair or on the floor and waiting or it can be playing with Mom’s hair or perhaps Dad falling asleep in the bed beside their little person.
Q) What do you mean by consolidated sleep vs fragmented sleep?
A) When we all sleep, we have something called partial arousals. We are not in a coma. There is a part of our brain that is always on scanning our environment and making sure we are safe. Partial arousals are when you move around in your bed, grab the pillow, snuggle up to your partner or even scratch an itchy spot. When you wake up in the morning, you don’t remember doing any of this. This beautiful sleep is called consolidated sleep. When you get it, your body goes into the deeper stages of sleep and therefore you feel well rested in the morning. Fragmented sleep or broken sleep is when you remember waking up in the night. This is when you look at the clock, and go “Oh great, it’s 2 am … how will I ever get back to sleep?” When you get fragmented sleep, your body won’t go into the deep stages of sleep and get adequate REM sleep. That’s why you don’t feel good the next day and your brain does not function at its best. The same applies for babies and children.
Q) How do I know as an adult that I am getting enough sleep?
A) If you feel at all tired during the day, need stimulants such as caffeine, or need an alarm clock (that includes children J) to wake you up in the morning, then you are simply not getting enough sleep. Another sign is how quickly you fall asleep! When they study adults to see if they are suffering from sleep deprivation, they do not judge it by the number of yawns in the day. That is NOT a reliable sign. They judge it by how fast their subjects fall asleep. If it is less than 5 minutes, they consider that subject sleep deprived.
Q) How do I know as a parent that my child is getting enough sleep?
A) Our children do not have the pressures of life like we do. It is easier to project and rationalize us to them, than to find solutions. For example, “it is 5 pm … I am worn out from the day and miserable, that’s why Joe is having a meltdown.” When babies and children are well rested, they are actually happy little people all day long even “during the witching hour”. Sure, they have their times when they are upset – most often when they don’t get what they want … but it is not to the same degree as a child who is well rested. Think
about your own ability to cope when you have a good night’s rest vs the times when you don’t.
Q) I don’t sleep well as an adult. Is it a lost cause?
A) No, never. There are resources out there. Please talk to your family doctor about a referral to The Kelowna Sleep Clinic. If you are referred, it is covered by your BC medical plan. Check out the following websites as well: thesleepdoctor.com, www.sleepfoundation.org/
Q) My child is not sleeping well. What can I do?
A) Contact me for a FREE 15 minute consultation.
Q) I have older children at home and I want them to understand the
importance of sleep. Is there anything out there that is fun and easy to use?A) Absolutely! Here is a website with loads of great information and ideas for parents and caregivers. http://www.sleepforkids.org/
Call me for your FREE 15 minute consultation! Also, don’t forget to check out my Facebook and Twitter page!