Go to sleep my baby...Getting them to sleep!
The Laurel- and- Hardy- fans go into raptures while describing the funny and ultimately futile attempts of the comic duo to put their kids to sleep in their masterpiece short-film ‘Brats’. If you haven’t seen it yet, please do- at least that will put your troubled mind at peace by making you realize that you are not the only parents facing difficulty in making their kids fall asleep! Coaxing, cajoling, cooing, cavorting- so many different ways are adopted by the parents to make their children sleep and not always, these methods are successful!
Describing their baby’s/ kid’s awful sleep patterns with bloodshot, sleep-deprived eyes is a peculiar parental problem for which there is no simple solution. But let me give you a few bright ideas to tackle this difficult problem.
Counting the hours of sleep
The average sleep time differs according to the individual’s age and as always these figures serve as mere guidelines rather than absolute truths! To put it simply, sleep is a very individual trait and the average sleep required to refresh the body and mind differs greatly from person to person.
The rough estimates of sleep- hours according to age will be:
So this chart will make it clear that the younger the age, the more is the sleep period and also the younger the age, the more is the day-sleep.
The reasons for ‘not sleeping’ and its effects
At younger ages, the lack of sleep may manifest as hyperactivity, irritability or fretfulness. Later on in life, it can cause decreased attentiveness, decreased short-tem memory, delayed response and inconsistent performance at school, college or work.
Strategies to tackle sleep problems
Where should they sleep?
This is a contentious issue and this decision should be made by parents after discussing their own attitudes towards it. Western parents mostly prefer separate beds and bedrooms for their children whereas Indian/ Asian parents often prefer to sleep with their children.
In his book ‘Guide to Child Care’, veteran paediatrician Dr. R.K. Anand says:
‘After going home, many mothers find following arrangements quite practical: The baby sleeps in your bed till he is one year old. In the second year, he sleeps on a mattress spread on the floor by the side of your bed. After he is three, he sleeps in a separate room on his own or along with his older brother or sister in separate beds. Teen-aged siblings of opposite sex should sleep in separate rooms.”
Which position is better for sleeping?
The scientifically recommended position for infant’s sleeping is supine or lying on the back. The prone position (lying on tummy) or right lateral (lying on right side) has been associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)- mostly because of the possible interference with breathing in those sleeping positions.
What are the other sleep-related problems?
Apart from inability to fall asleep or frequently getting up during the sleep, there are certain specific sleep-related problems like nightmares, night terrors and night walking (Somnambulism).
Nightmares are terrifying dreams which happen in REM (light) sleep stage. The child (usually a pre-schooler) wakes up with fright after the bad dream and can remember the details. After reassuring he can go back to sleep in most cases.
Night Terrors happen in Non-REM deep sleep stage. The child (usually a pre-schooler) suddenly sits up in his bed and appears terrified. He might scream or make thrashing movements. He is sweating and his heart is beating fast. He cannot be reassured but mostly settles down on his own after about half an hour and goes back to deep sleep. Later he doesn’t remember a thing about the episode.
Night Walking takes place in Non-REM deep sleep stage and usually happens in school age children. The child gets out of his bed and starts walking in deep sleep- with glazed eyes and incomprehensible speech.
From the Web
Right Parenting.Com is a site dedicated to offer compassionate scientific guidance on various parenting and child-health issues. It is managed by Dr. Mandar V. Bichu, a Sharjah-based paediatrician with the help of experts in various fields.
Right ParentingDr. Mandar V. Bichu