Sleep deprivation is not a problem that only adults face. Apparently, even toddlers face this problem. A study has revealed that only 6 out of 24 toddlers actually sleep through the night. Sleep is very important for the healthy growth and development of the toddler. A 18-24 month old child needs approximately 12 hours of sleep during the day, and a 2-hour nap during the day. The sleep of a toddler may be affected by a variety of reasons.
Why is my toddler not sleeping?
Some of you may have noticed that your toddler slept better as an infant. However, several developments in their system can be the cause of them staying awake throughout the night. Once you find the reasons behind this, you can find ways to change these habits.
~ Toddlers are usually light sleepers. They tend to wake up at the slightest sound, and sometimes even when they are hungry. They may wake up because they are feeling cold, or just to pee, but may be unable to go back to sleep.
~ Sometimes, because of the pressure parents put on their children, while undergoing toilet training, they may not sleep through the night for fear of wetting the bed. This is a form of anxiety, due to which your toddler may be waking up in the night.
~ When children begin to realize that they are capable of doing things on their own, they suffer from what is called 'separation anxiety'. This is so, because they begin to feel alienated from their parents and are unable to cope with it easily. As a result, they may not want to sleep in his or her own bed. It is this fear of being alone that may be the reason for your toddler not sleeping throughout the night.
~ As they grow, toddlers begin to understand dreams and nightmares. This may be one more reason they are unable to sleep through the night.
~ A bad diet may cause stress to a baby, thereby being a cause of sleeplessness.
~ Constipation or any other illnesses could also be a reason that might keep your child awake during the night. Even growing phases, such as teething, can be a reason.
Though a phase, as a parent, it is important that you ensure a gradual change in your toddler's sleeping pattern, because lack of sleep can result in aggression, tantrums, mood swings, and lethargy, which can also culminate into full-fledged sleep disorders.
How do I get my Toddler to Sleep at Night?
It is unfortunate that, unless certain measures are taken, no miraculous occurrence will suddenly make your toddler sleep the entire night. There are several measures that you can take to make your child's sleep cycle regular. Some of the measures are:
~ It is important, that you do not encourage the pattern of your toddler waking up every night. Do not reward this behavior by rushing every time you hear him or her wake up.
~ Avoid the habit of watching T.V. before sleeping. It is one of the reasons that can cause nightmares and anxiety in your toddler.
~ If hunger is one of the reasons your toddler is not sleeping well at night, you can increase his/her meals during the day. This will keep him/her sufficiently full, and avoid the problem of waking up at night.
~ Encourage some kind of physical activity at some time during the day, so as to tire your toddler and help him/her sleep soundly throughout the night.
~ Unwinding before bedtime is a good way to help your toddler sleep through the night. Reading a bedtime story together or even singing a lullaby, can soothe his/her mind and help in sleeping through the night without any disturbances.
You cannot eliminate this problem completely. Rather, think of it as a developmental spurt.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical expert.