A widespread phenomenon that we encounter in parents of children in infancy is to face many and various problems during the sleep of children that directly affect themselves.
Below we will list some of them, examine their possible causes, and how we can deal with them.
Problem: Wakes up often at night
Sleep disorders are common in early childhood. The child can wake up many times during the night, unable to sleep alone again without the parents’ help, pops up with the slightest noise, and therefore sleeps fewer hours than average.
Sleep problems may occur in infants born prematurely. Some organic disorders that cause these sleep problems include anoxia (reduced oxygenation during childbirth), low birth weight, or poor diet (lack of protein and calories).
Usually, sleep disorders are due to the dysfunctional interactive relationship with the mother. An accident or illness in the family, postpartum depression, or separation from the mother due to her return to work are associated with insomnia in children.
Finally, some mothers are anxious about the child, might bother him when he sleeps (they talk to him frequently, wake him up to see if he breathes well, etc.), and prevent him from relaxing and sleeping.
it is important to adjust his biological clock, to teach the baby to sleep the whole night,
He must know the difference between day and night, light and darkness. For this reason, make sure that in the evening the room is dark and quiet. When sleeping during the day, it is good not to create artificial darkness in the room and avoid noises.
During the day, you need to talk to him at meals, but night meals should be quieter and as quiet as possible.
If the baby cries during the night, respond immediately, and reassure it. If necessary, stay with him until he falls asleep again.
Sleep the child with a song or fairy tale to connect the bedtime with pleasant stimuli. They may also need to be surrounded by favorite objects (bear, blanket, etc.), wear a pacifier, or suck their finger; these movements must be acceptable and respected by parents. They reduce the stress of separation felt by the child.
Problem: Night urination
Although he may have taken off the diaper a long time ago, he doesn’t always manage to hold on when he’s asleep. The child’s ability to control his clamps is definitively conquered around three to four years, which depends on various factors, such as the neurological maturation of the child and the reactions of the environment.
Night urination may be due to biological – genetic factors associated with the maturation of the nervous system’s parts that control the bladder.
However, when presented to children up to 7-8 years of age, it is usually associated with a significant change in their environment or life, such as the arrival of a baby in the family, return to school, removal, separation from parents, or even problems in the relationship between parents.
Regardless of urination’s etiology, the child feels helpless, powerless, and unable to control the condition.
It is good to wear a diaper at night until you make sure it stays dry until morning or lay an absorbent cover on its mattress.
Avoid giving the child too many fluids before bedtime.
Encourage the child to use the toilet before bedtime, and as soon as it wakes up in the morning.
Check until the child can be held at night and wake it up at night to use the toilet and then continue sleeping. You can apply this for 3-4 weeks.
Avoid comments, irony, and punishment because they can make it more stressful.
Problem: Not sleeping easily
A large number of children (35%) have trouble falling asleep at night. The child finds several pretenses to avoid sleep. These pretenses are attempts to master his anxiety and control his fears.
Usually, the conditions prevailing in the family environment and the relationships between the parents and the child are responsible for the difficulties that occur at bedtime.
We also note that these difficulties have intensified in urban centers and manifest from stress and anxiety that come from everyday life conditions. They are expressed while the child goes to bed, as at that time of day, he is alone and feels unprotected.
Organize the child’s schedule so that all activities take place at the same time and under the same conditions. Sing to the child, read him a fairy tale, and hug him to connect sleep with something specific and pleasant.
If he asks you to, stay with him until he falls asleep.
Agree to call you when he wants something, instead of getting up and coming to you.
Avoid giving him foods that contain a lot of sugar or caffeine (chocolates, soft drinks) in the afternoon and stimulate him; make sure that the last meal of the day is light and has a time distance from bedtime.
Don’t let the child watch TV or play computer games before going to bed.
The child wakes up scared and screams because he had a scary dream that worried him. If you ask, he remembers telling you precisely what he saw in his sleep. Many children have nightmares, starting at the age of 18 months. Episodes can be isolated or repeated for a certain period.
Usually, nightmares are caused by hearing or viewing something scary during the day.
Stress and anxiety may also be responsible for children’s nightmares.
Reassure the child and don’t show any fuss and distress; explain to him that what they saw wasn’t real and won’t happen in reality.
Prevent nightmares by eliminating the factors that create them. Maintaining a specific sleep schedule, avoiding tensions, and a calm climate are some steps that need to be followed for the child to sleep soundly. You can read some fairy tales that explain dreams and nightmares or encourage the child to paint what frightened him to overcome it; be sure to remove – as much as possible – stressors during the day.
Problem: Night terrors
The child gets up abruptly, has his eyes open or closed, shouts, and is pale, sweaty, and terrorized. He is not aware of what is happening and does not recognize either the people or the environment around him because he is still asleep. The episode lasts from 2 to 10 minutes. During this time, the child has no contact with the environment and cannot be comforted.
Night terrors are different from nightmares because when the child wakes up, he doesn’t remember anything. They appear at the age of two or three years and last about eight years.
Night terrors may be hereditary – that is, there is a history in the family; they are not due to any emotional or psychological problems. However, the situation can get worse every time the child gets sick or anxious about something.
You need to stay calm and not touch or hug the child to comfort him unless the child is in danger of being hurt.
As a precaution, it is suitable for the child not to watch TV before going to bed but to engage in activities without tension. Avoid feeding it late and make sure he sleeps several hours and regularly because night terrors can be caused by lack of sleep and rest.
The child walks or makes various movements while sleeping, usually with open eyes. He can scream, cry, laugh, or say scattered words and phrases he doesn’t remember when he wakes up.
Sleepwalking is usually hereditary and involves a large proportion of children (30%).
It also probably occurs due to immaturity in regulating sleep/wake cycles in the brain but may also be associated with fatigue, sleep loss, or anxiety.
Take the necessary safety measures to avoid accidents during the night.
Make sure the child engages in leisure activities a few hours before bedtime.
Avoid waking it up while sleepwalking. It’s a good thing you talk to the child calmly to drive him back to bed.
Please don’t ask him questions the next day about this.
The above treatment methods are general guidelines that can be modified and adapted to each situation and the specificities of each child and his parents. Under no circumstances do we need to be absolute on matters relating to human nature. We need to show understanding and cooperation in solving any problems – specialties that arise.