Sleep in young children is often a concern for parents. Healthy sleep habits are essential for good cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and physical development in children. Therefore, early detection and intervention is needed to reduce or eliminate bad sleep habits as early as possible.
Tips for parents: prevention and management of sleep problems
Under the theme of sleep in the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, the range of sleep problems and their consequences is fully described. This article lists tips for parents. He places particular emphasis on evidence that proves the effectiveness of providing recommendations or behavioral advice to parents to prevent and treat childhood insomnia related to the behavior of young children. The article will detail several practical tips for those unfamiliar with this topic, and will outline evidence on the impact of parent education on the prevention and treatment of early childhood sleep disorders.
Pediatric sleep problems are extremely common. About 25% of children experience a type of sleep problem. 1 They range from those who can be relieved by behavioral strategies, such as difficulty sleeping at bedtime or frequent nighttime awakenings, to sleep disturbances related to a structural pathology such as apnea obstructive sleep that requires surgery or otherwise. We will discuss the first problems, which can be solved through behavioral strategies.
Tips on preventing and managing sleep problems can be provided to parents in a variety of ways. Front-line health professionals can offer oral or written advice (brochures, etc.). Parents can also find their own tips and strategies, using sources such as self-help books, magazines, other media or websites. Where information is available at a health care center, it may be focused on prevention (eg, regular pediatric consultations) or after assessment and diagnosis of pediatric sleep problems.
For the reader who is unfamiliar with this topic, we present some examples of the types of counseling and the method, in the form of information for parents to prevent and manage the insomnia of young children that are related to behavior. Subsequently, the issues, research, and key questions for the research will be presented. The advice is based both on the results of sleep hygiene research from studies in adult and pediatric populations, and on pediatric expert opinions that have been published by leading researchers in the field of pediatric sleep. field of pediatric sleep medicine. Did you have a sleeping disorder you must buy quality mattress online.
Tip # 1: How much sleep does a child need?
There is a need to educate parents about developmental changes and individual variations in sleep needs. The sleep needs of children change with age. The duration of their daytime sleep is reduced to 5 years, at which time most children no longer take naps during the day. The total need for sleep over a 24-hour period also decreases with age. It is important to remember that children change at every age in the amount of sleep they need to be well rested. The most important question for a family is not how long their child sleeps but how well they rest during the day. The normal hours of sleep expected are changing by age (several references offer this information).
Tip # 2: The bedroom of a child; it should provide a safe, safe and calm sleeping environment.
The place where a child sleeps can vary from one family to another. It is possible that the child sleeps in his own room or that he shares the room of a brother or sister. The important thing about the children’s room is that everyone should have a suitable and comfortable space, no matter where the child sleeps. The bedroom should be comfortable (not too hot or too cold), calm and dark. If the room is too dark for a child, it is possible to use a night light that must stay on all night. If the light of the street lamps or the morning sunlight illuminates the room, it is easy to advise the installation of opaque curtains. “Exposure to the bright morning light, as well as avoiding light in the evening,1 Parents should also be aware that there are other noises in the house at night and can disrupt sleep. It would therefore be important to minimize such noises, including those that may come from brothers and sisters, television, computers, video games or radio.
Tip # 3: Establish a bedtime routine.
It is important to establish for the child a short and suitable routine for bedtime that will change with the child’s time and needs as it develops. A good routine will help the child to relax and fall asleep. Soothing activities should be part of it, which will ideally be done in the child’s room and start 15 to 30 minutes before bedtime. For a younger child, the routine will be shorter. It is important that parents / partners and caregivers follow the same routine. The more regular, appropriate and predictable the routine, the easier it will be for the child to fall asleep at bedtime. One of the basic principles of sleep hygiene for children is to “have a well-established routine and bedtime”.3
Tip # 4: Keep a regular schedule.
Parents should try to keep, as much as possible, the same bedtime and waking hours for their child every day of the week. Bedtime will be delayed according to age, but it must always be fixed to allow the child to get enough sleep each night. Even if a child goes to bed later, he or she must be woken at the same time or no later than one hour after the normal waking time. Although it seems best to let a child “sleep in” and catch up, the more regular waking hours are, the better sleep will be.
For a younger child who is having a nap (s) during the day, the start and end times of the nap should be regular. When possible, the child should take a nap in his room. Once the child has only one nap a day, it will usually begin at the end of the lunch. Regardless of the time of the beginning of the afternoon naps, it is important to wake up the child at 4:00 pm or earlier, so that it is easier to fall asleep at bedtime.
Other important things to consider when establishing a routine for children are meal times and exposure to sunlight and darkness. Children must have breakfast every morning at the same time or almost every day of the week as well as on weekends. Do not give heavy meals or snacks to children late at night. However, a light snack containing carbohydrates (eg, cheese and crackers, or a fruit) can help a child fall asleep more easily. The effect of meals on sleep has not been studied in children and this advice is extrapolated from studies conducted in adults.
Tip # 5: Teach a child to fall asleep alone.
A young child must be put to bed when he is sleepy but still awake. 3Instead of feeding or breastfeeding an infant until he falls asleep, parents should, after their first months of life, stop feeding their baby when he is sleepy but does not have hunger. It is possible to put to bed a waking baby who is more than 6 months old, in which case the parents will gradually move away from their bed, which will allow the infant to learn how to fall asleep alone. When a baby wakes up at night, his parents can help him learn the difference between day and night by reducing the stimulation due to light and ambient light at night and increasing it in the morning. A healthy, vigorous 6-month-old infant can be weaned at night.
Tip # 6: Encourage daytime activities that help a child sleep at night.
Children’s sleep can be affected positively or unfavorably by the activities of the day. For example, the effects of exercise can be positive or negative depending on whether or not they are close to bedtime. Exercise during the day helps your child sleep better at night. Adults who exercise report that it is easier for them to fall asleep at night, and their sleep has been deeper and more consolidated. If the child does not have regular sports classes at school, it is advisable to schedule physical exercise outside of school hours. The ideal time for exercise is early in the day, as stimulating exercise too close to bedtime can cause sleeplessness at the beginning of the night. It is best to stop exercises or other very stimulating activities two or three hours before bedtime. A study of insomniac adults presented a behavioral intervention on the Internet that included, among other recommendations, more exercise daily. Compared with the control group, the participants who received the intervention significantly improved their sleep.
It is important for health professionals to teach parents to encourage good sleep habits in their children in the first few months to prevent bad habits from appearing later. 9However, it is necessary to think about when to provide this information. Parents need to be educated about the development of circadian rhythms in newborns that prevents rigorous sleep prevention training before the infant is at least 4 to 6 months old. Providers need to know not only advice for preventing and managing sleep problems but also for providing healthy sleep in the first month after birth.
Health professionals should also be aware of theassessment and diagnosis of sleep problems in children so that behavioral strategies or counseling can be provided only in a timely manner. For some sleep disorders in young children (eg, obstructive sleep apnea), although parents may find it helpful to learn more about behavioral treatment strategies for problems these are only part of the treatment, the most important part being the evaluation and management of upper airway obstruction.
One of the problems identified in the literature is the lack of knowledge of some health professionals about pediatric sleep disorders. Although this knowledge gap is not unique to paediatricians, an earlier publication focused on the ability of American pediatricians to provide parents with information about sleep. In this 2001 US study, a survey of more than 600 pediatricians found that there were significant gaps between “basic knowledge about pediatric sleep and its disorders among pediatricians and the translation of these pediatric knowledge in their clinical practice “. 10In a recent study on pediatric sleep disorders, Stores G. also commented that “health education for parents and expectant parents often pays little attention to sleep.” 11 In fact, children’s sleep education should be part of the training programs that health professionals undertake during their medical studies, nursing, psychology, social work, teaching, as well as education. other relevant programs.