All About Sleep And Your Preschooler

September 22, 2019

People need different amounts of sleep at different stages of life. Preschoolers need about 11-12, including a nap if necessary.

Why Is Sleep So Important?

  • Adequate sleep is necessary for your child fo several reason:
  • Promotes physical growth – Growth hormone is secreted during sleep
  • Weight – Many studies find correlations between lack of sleep and being overweight
  • Health – Better sleep means a stronger immune system
  • Stress – Proper sleep keeps cortisol levels in check, helping with growth and health
  • Alertness – Less chance of an injury occurring. Also, a well-rested child generally has a longer attention span

Overall, adequate sleep maximizes your child’s development and well-being.

How to Get Your Child Enough Sleep

  • Bedtime routines are an excellent way to get your child to sleep like a rock once it’s bedtime. To create a good bedtime routine, consider the following:
  • Maintain a consistent daytime schedule including mealtimes and playtimes
  • Avoid meals close to bedtime
  • Give your child about a half hour before bed to wind down and relax
  • Keep a consistent bedtime and let your child know 30 minutes and 10 minutes beforehand
  • Cozy up your child’s bedroom – Make it quiet, dark, and cool
  • No screens at least an hour before bedtime
  • In a similar vein, the bed should be for sleeping only, not TV
  • No stimulants before bedtime
  • Tuck your child in

Sleeping Issues in Preschoolers

Not all children fall asleep the moment their head hits the pillow. Some may struggle with nightmares or night terrors; others might be afraid of the dark; still others might just struggle to quiet their mind and fall asleep.

If your child is afraid of the dark or experiences nightmares or night terrors, a favored stuff animal, blanket, or pillow could make them feel safe and secure. On top of that, you could create a “nighttime kit” consisting of a flashlight and your child’s favorite book or CD.

Don’t rely on laying with them to help them sleep. They’ll learn to depend on you for feeling safe at night, rather than learning how to deal with their fears on their own.

What About Naps?

Preschoolers already need a lot of sleep. Mix that in with an active preschooler lifestyle and they might need a nap to compensate for all that energy spent playing.

You can use a similar, albeit shortened routine to get them ready to nap. Set aside a little over an hour each day to let them wind down and fall asleep. Keep the same quiet time every day. If your child isn’t tired, they may want to get up and play instead. However, you need to stick to the routine anyways to ensure they get enough sleep.

Now, if they truly can’t fall asleep, it’s fine; sometimes your child will have a ton of energy, and other times they’ll want to sleep even longer than an hour. Let your child know you want them to try and sleep, but if they can’t, quiet playing is acceptable during nap time.

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