Chances are, you can tell when your toddler is sleepy. He or she gets cranky, yawn-y, or sometimes throws downright tantrums! But as your little one gets older, the warning signs don’t always manifest the same way. So how can you know if your child is getting enough sleep? For that matter, do you even know if you’re getting enough sleep?
Newborns need tons of sleep. It’s normal for one month olds to sleep 16 hours a day, waking and napping in intervals. As your baby grows into a child, then a teenager, and (eventually) and adult, those hours halve. Here’s a basic outline of the amount of sleep an average human should be getting per day, based on age:
- Under one year old: 14 - 16 hours
- One to three years old: 12 – 14 hours
- Four to nine years old: 10 – 12 hours
- Ten to seventeen years old: 8.5 – 10 hours
- Adults (18 – 64 years old): 7 – 9 hours
- Over 64 years old: 7 – 8 hours
You may be familiar with these numbers. However, you or your loved ones may not be getting as much sleep as you think you’re getting. Many people wake frequently in the night and don’t realize it, because their mind never fully comes to consciousness. This kind of frequent semi-conscious waking keeps you (or your child) from getting a full REM cycle, meaning you ultimately end up feeling much less rested than you should if you think you’ve gotten enough hours of sleep.
"You or your loved ones may not be getting as much sleep as you think you’re getting."
What are the symptoms of sleeplessness? Aside from the obvious “tiredness” symptom, there are many physical responses a body has to lack of sleep. Weight gain, inability to concentrate, crankiness, lack of physical growth by height, and even a weakened immune system (e.g., frequent colds and illnesses) are all direct results of lack of sleep. If your child is experiencing any or all of these symptoms, then he or she might not be getting enough sleep, even if they’re spending the recommended number of hours in bed at night.
"Aside from the obvious 'tiredness' symptom, there are many physical responses a body has to lack of sleep."
How can you help them sleep sounder? Before trying over-the-counter or prescription medicines, many of which can contain toxic ingredients with dangerous side effects, there are some natural and safe sleep-aiding techniques you can try:
Turn off screens at least one hour before bedtime. No computer, TV, video games, or even cell phone time if they can manage it! Likewise, avoid food and drink besides water for several hours before bedtime as well. Establish a routine that follows these guidelines and sets specific bedtime habits at the same time every night to help your child’s circadian rhythms fall into a pattern. Try to keep all non-sleep distractions (such as toys, games, and homework) away from the bed and, if possible, out of the bedroom. Special herbs and teas before bedtime, like chamomile, may also help.
It may take some time for the new routine to become affective, but if you don’t see a marked improvement after a reasonable amount of time, you may want to seek out a doctor. There are a variety of sleep disorders (everything from insomnia to sleep apnea and more) that your doctor may be able to help you address.
It’s very important to make sure your little ones are getting enough sleep, especially in the early years, because sleep has huge impact on development! Here at Genexa we want to make sure you’re equipped with the healthiest advice and information for taking care of your family. Sign up for our email list for more content and tips like this!