By Diane Griffith, Staff Writer, myOptumHealth
By the time your child turns two, he will probably have spent more time asleep than awake. But have those hours been spent in healthy slumber or have they been interrupted by constant nighttime awakenings and fragmented sleep?
When a child is well rested, it is easier for her to sleep at night and at naptime. But when she is overtired, falling asleep and staying asleep are much harder. Kids who don't sleep well usually fall into a cycle of sleep deprivation characterized by:
Being well rested helps your baby to:
Your baby is older now and doesn't need a nighttime feeding. Yet he still wakes up at night and cries. You rush in, rock him and sing to him, but now he's wide awake and sleep is the farthest thing from his mind. Finally, you give him a bottle - not because he needs it, but because it will help him fall asleep and let you go back to bed.
From infancy to old age, everyone wakes up during the night. We are not fully awake, and can fall back to sleep sometimes within seconds. When baby has one of these partial awakenings, she cries because she hasn't yet learned how to lull herself back to sleep. If you rush into the room to "help" her by rocking, singing or resorting to a bottle, you end up with a wide-awake baby who won't learn how to fall asleep on her own.
Your baby needs to learn how to soothe himself by sucking on his thumb or a pacifier, or (when baby is old enough to roll over) by cuddling with a special toy or blanket. This helps keep a partial awakening just that - partial.
How you can help
These tips may help your baby sleep more soundly:
As they grow
Many children continue to nap until they are 4 or 5 years old. Kids in this age group who don't nap are more hyperactive, anxious and depressed than their napping counterparts. This is according to a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The study said that when parents let young children forego napping in favor of nighttime sleep, those children usually have problems functioning during the day and don't sleep well at night.
View the original From naptime to nighttime: why sleep is so important for your baby article on myOptumHealth.com
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