The Importance of Sleep
When parents bring home their new little bundle of joy, they often assume 2 things:
- my baby knows how to eat, and
- my baby knows how to sleep.
Any mother that’s tried to nurse their infant will tell you that breastfeeding is not a skill that babies are just born with. You actually have to teach your child how to latch on and that can be tiring, frustrating, and take quite a bit of time! The same is true for sleeping. Yes, infants know how to sleep, however, we almost always inadvertently teach them how to feed to sleep because that’s all infants do – eat and sleep! While that will work for a while, it will eventually stop working as they grow up and become more aware of their environment, which is why it’s so important for us to teach our children as soon as possible how to sleep independently.
Most of us realize that sleep is important to our overall functioning and well-being, but did you know that you could actually die in 11 short days without it?? Sleep is vital for many things for both adults and children, such as fighting off diseases and viruses, performance of both large and small motor skills, hand-eye coordination, concentration, and focus. Lack of sleep can also cause behavioral problems, over-tiredness, irritability, depression, aggressiveness, hyperactivity, and exaggerated emotions.
Sleep begets sleep! It sounds funny to hear that the MORE your child sleeps at night the better they will sleep during the day for naps, but it’s true! A child who has trouble going to sleep on her own will not only have more night wakings, but will most likely wake early in the morning, take shorter naps, and if they’re older could experience an increase in night terrors, nightmares, sleep walking, and sleep talking.
Sleep deprivation is a powerful thing! If a child is not sleeping well, then neither are his parents! Don’t let anyone tell you sleep deprivation is “just what you get when you have kids”. Yes, you made the choice to have a child, but no, you did not agree to do it in exchange for years of not sleeping. Most healthy babies are able to sleep straight through the night by the age of 6 months, and many are sleeping through by 3-4 months already. If your child is over 6 months old and still not sleeping through the night, then it’s time to investigate what might be going on.
Sleep problems that begin in infancy continue to persist for 3-5yrs, so if you’re waiting for your child to “outgrow” his bad sleep habits you might be waiting for years! And even then it’s not always that the problem has been resolved, but that the child is old enough to not call you in every time he’s awake. If your friends and family are right and children do outgrow these sleep issues, then why do adults constantly ask me if the Sleep Sense™ program I use can help them, too?
The chart below shows just how much sleep humans need TOTAL in a 24hr period throughout their lives (including naps for young children). Is your little one getting this much? If not, you might want to look into making some changes to her bedtime and/or nap schedule.
|12-18||Newborns (0-2 months)|
|14-15||Infants (3-11 months)|
|14-15||Toddlers (1-3 years)|
|11-13||Preschoolers (3-5 years)|
|10-11||School aged children (5-10 years)|
|8.5-9.5||Teens (11-17 years)|
|7-9||Adults (18+ years)|
As you can see, sleep is extremely important to our overall health and well-being. In fact sleeping is just as important and vital as eating! We would never let our children skip a meal, so why would we let them skip a nap, go to bed too late, or continue to wake throughout the night when they don’t have to?
If you have a child with unhealthy sleep habits, and you would like to help them create new, better ones, then I can help! I offer a free 15 minute phone evaluation to parents to discuss their individual circumstances since every child is different. And because I love the Zipadee-Zip product and blog, I wanted to give all of its followers a special discount (see coupon below)!
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