Five Ways to Determine if Your Child's Sleeping Is Normal
Trying to define “normal sleeping” for anyone, especially a child, is a tricky proposition. After all, the sleep habits and requirements can differ from kid to kid. For example, 10 hours of sleep might not be enough for one child yet be too much for another child.
Still, parents who are concerned that their children aren’t experiencing normal sleeping can look for signs that something is or isn’t amiss. Keep in mind that every child will occasionally experience a night in which he can’t fall asleep or she wakes up at 2 a.m. because of a nightmare. That said, here are five ways to determine if your child’s sleeping is normal:
1. Recommended hours of sleep
Normal sleeping requires fewer hours of sleep as children get older. Babies need 14-16 hours every day; toddlers should get 12-14; preschoolers do well with 10-12; tweens need 10-11, and teens require (but rarely get) 8-9. The exact amount can vary from child to child, but these numbers are good starting points if you are trying to determine normal sleeping for your child.
2. Naps at normal times
Toddlers past age 1 still need naps, though not as frequently as babies. Younger kids, even preschoolers, will get tired, and naps will recharge them for the next part of the day. These naps should occur around the same time every day, coinciding with your child’s routine. Eventually, much to the sadness of many parents, the need to nap is outgrown by kindergarten (if not sooner), but if younger kids are not napping at all, this could be a sign something is off with your child’s sleeping.
3. No trouble falling asleep
Typically, about 10-20 minutes are needed for an adult to fall asleep, and this time frame is similar for children. Anything more on a consistent basis is not a sign of normal sleeping; anything much less (such as falling asleep as the head hits the pillow) can also be a sign your child’s sleep patterns are awry—kids should be tired at bedtime but not that tired.
4. Waking up without an alarm
Eventually, as kids grow older, they might need an alarm clock or a parent to wake them up. But kindergarteners, if they are getting enough sleep overnight, should wake up bouncy and ready to take on the day without any extra help. Natural waking after a good night’s sleep is a sign of normal sleeping in children.
5. Lack of fatigue
Once children are past the nap stage, they shouldn’t be overly tired, as in falling-asleep-in-class tired, on a consistent basis. Sure, there will be occasional days your child is fatigued, but grade schoolers shouldn’t need a nap every day. Tired kids, even ones who are seemingly getting enough sleep, may not be achieving normal sleeping.
If you suspect your child has a sleep problem that you just can’t put your finger on, another way to determine this is an overnight sleep study. Contact the experts at Alaska Sleep Clinic for a free consultation.