Crankiness, sleepless nights, angry spells or overly sensitive reactions. No we’re not talking about mum or dad. Kid’s brains and bodies are constantly working; developing muscles with all that play, growing bones, and making new connections in their brains. When you really stop to think just how dependent we are as newborns, added in with all the growth and development that we go through in our first year of life its all very, very hard work. And all this extra work means that children need a lot more sleep than adults. However, as they age, children’s sleep requirements will decline. In the meantime though, its up to you to ensure that your child is getting enough sleep to a) ensure that their bodies can develop properly and b) to give your child enough energy to get through the day.
How Much Sleep?
Below is a rough guideline of the average amount of sleep a child requires in a 24-hour period, from birth to five years:
- Newborns: 16-19 hours per day
- One Month: 15-17 hours per day
- Three months: 16-17 hours per day
- Six to twelve months: 14.5-16 hours per day
- One to three years: 13-15 hours per day
- 4 years: 11-12 hours per day
- Five years: 11 hours
Of course, there are always exceptions. Overly sleepy newborns may need to be woken regularly to eat, to ensure that their bodies are receiving the nutrition they need to grow and develop. On the other hand, some kids out there just don’t seem to need as much sleep as others.
So how do you know if your child is getting enough sleep? Here are some indicators that your child might require more sleep:
- They fall asleep frequently when you are travelling in the car.
- They are cranky, over-emotional, or irritable.
- They seem to have trouble processing information.
- You have to wake your child up each morning.
- On occasion your child falls asleep much earlier in the evening than normal.
- They constantly are rubbing at their eyes or yawn a lot
Helping Your Child Sleep
So how do you help your child to get more sleep if they need it? Here are some suggestions:
- Make your child’s room a calm, relaxing place to sleep. This means a minimum of toys (preferably none) and definitely no television, computer, or video games in the room.
- Never send children to bed as a punishment, otherwise they will always associate it as such. Going to be should be enjoyable and will help your child fall to sleep easier.
- Install window coverings that at least partially block light, so you child can fall asleep easier in the summer months when it is lighter much later.
- For younger children, establish a bedtime routine and stick to it. It will help your child unwind at the end of the day and provide them with an “anchor” for bedtime.
How Chiropractic Care Can Help
If your child does not sleep well, or still appears tired after a reasonable amount of sleep, then there may be underlying issues. Remember good sleep helps to develop memory and alertness and also strengthen the immune system so it is so very important that we our children sleep enough. High levels of spinal cord tension and the presence of subluxations in the spine can restrict movement, stress the nervous system and even cause pain. Chiropractic adjustments can help your child to relax, fall asleep more easily and sleep for longer periods.