It’s a myth that anyone sleeps through the night. We all wake up at one point or another, perhaps to use the bathroom or change positions. In fact, we wake up all the time between our sleep cycles but never truly reach awareness enough to remember it.
Most children are capable of sustained sleep (six to eight hours) by six months old (that isn’t a hard number, every child is different –it’s just an estimate). By a year, most kids should be sleeping entirely through the night. Some children, however, develop a habit of waking up during the night long after they should stop.
Here are some reasons your children wake up at night and how you can help.
1. Fears or separation anxiety – Children who experience anxiety when left alone or away from their parents are more prone to night wakings. It’s important for mom and dad to tackle these fears with the child, rather than ignore them (which can exacerbate the problem).
2. Nightmares or night terrors – Frightening dreams happen during REM sleep. When we wake up soon after experiencing a dream, we are likely to remember it. If your child wake after having a nightmare, it will trigger anxiety and stress, and he’ll call for mom or dad.
3. Learned hunger – Some children become accustomed to feeding during the night so they come to expect it. Their bodies wake up hungry and they seek out breast milk, formula, or if they’re old enough, a solid snack. Make sure he or she has a full belly before going to sleep and help your child learn that calorie consumption happens during the daytime..
4. Poor sleep environment – Children prefer the same types of sleep environments that we do: quiet and dark. Is a TV running? Is there too much noise down the hall? Does your child share the room with someone who doesn’t go to bed at the same time? Any of these can wake your child up. Good white noise sound conditioners can work wonders.
5. Changing sleep associations - If your child is used to falling asleep in a particular manner (perhaps you rub her back, or she uses a pacifier, or she falls asleep in your bed), she might have a hard time falling back to sleep when she wakes up in a different manner. You can fix this by teaching your child to fall asleep on her own in the place you expect her to sleep and sticking to those conditions.
6. Medical disorders – It’s quite possible that a medical condition is keeping your child awake at night. If you notice him coughing himself awake, it could be asthma. If he has belly pain or vomiting, it could be acid reflux. Obstructive sleep apnea is also a possibly in children. Consult your doctor if you suspect any of these issues.
7. Overtiredness – When we allow ourselves to become overtired, we experience restless sleep which is more likely to wake us up in between sleep cycles. Children do not have the ability to settle themselves well, so they struggle to soothe themselves back to sleep. The only cure is more sleep, which is understandably hard.
Guest Blog by Joanna von Yurt, Certified Child Sleep Consultant and Co-Founder and CEO of Swanling Innovations Inc.
Joanna von Yurt is the mother of three intelligent, sensitive, and compassionate girls (who all want to be mommies when they grow up). She is first AND foremost a mom! Professionally, however, she is an accountant, controller and serial entrepreneur.
Joanna has a degree in Psychology from Harvard University with an emphasis in child psychology. She worked as an infant caregiver for 12 years and interned as a Child Life Specialist, family/social therapist, and assisted in clinical studies involving children’s personality and social psychology.
Joanna has a lifelong passion for childcare and child safety. She enjoys sharing her experiences with other parents about sleep routines, attachment parenting, safe sleep guidelines, and children’s natural sleep patterns. Her company, Swanling Innovations, is committed to producing modern, safe and innovative products that meet the expectations of discerning parents. The Slumber Sleeper™ is a 4-in 1 safe sleep solution (mattress protector, flat sheet, fitted sheet and sleep sack all in one) designed to help keep your baby safe, warm and centered.
Joanna always says that a well-rested child and well-rested parents add up to a happy family!
Visit www.swanling.com for more information.
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