Restless sleep in babies and toddlers is relatively normal. Their day-night rhythm has not yet been established. With school children, however, parents shouldn't ignore the early signs of insomnia. Primary school students usually need ten to eleven hours of sleep, less can lead to poor concentration and performance and even weaken the immune system and inhibit growth. During deep sleep, the body's own defences are strengthened and the growth hormone, which is so important for children, is released. Insufficient sleep can also result in mood swings or increased aggressiveness.
But: not every sleep excuse is a serious sleep problem. Only if sleep is disturbed for at least four weeks, and the daily routine is also affected by this, should you find a remedy together with your child. For example, using the following tips for falling asleep:
- stick to a regular bedtime
- keep the same routine, for example, a bedtime story or quiet music
- discuss the day quietly (was the child bothered by anything?)
- turn on a night light or leave the door open (if there is a fear of darkness)
- no television or exciting games one hour before going to bed; younger children especially need about 60 minutes to 'wind down'.
Advice is also available from the German Academy for Health and Sleep www.dgsm.de