For toddlers, sleep is a big issue. When you’re a toddler, sleep means a lot of things. It means that your body needs to rest so that it can grow and develop properly. Sleep also gives your brain the opportunity to rest and repair itself so that it can function properly again the next day.
Unfortunately, sleep doesn’t come easily for toddlers. They tend to wake up during the night more often and they may be less able to fall asleep at bedtime.
In other cases, many toddlers are still very active during the day and will not want to settle down for nap time until they are tired enough.
It is common for toddlers to go through several “sleep phases” during the night, meaning that they will wake up, go back to sleep, then wake up again several times.
This can lead to a variety of problems in their daily lives, including exhaustion and increased sleepiness in school or at home.
So what can you do about it? Here are some common sleep issues in toddlers and how you can help your toddler get better sleep habits.
1. Sleep Deprivation
As mentioned, sleep deprivation is a common problem for toddlers.
When they are overtired, they will have trouble falling asleep at night and staying asleep during the night. This can lead to poor sleep habits and daytime sleepiness in children.
The lack of sleep can also affect the way your child’s brain functions during the day. This can lead to poor attention and behavior problems in school or at home.
So how do you know if your toddler is suffering from sleep deprivation?
There are several signs that may indicate this problem. Firstly, sleep deprivation is shown when your child is sleepy all day long but does not want to go to bed at night.
They may often fall asleep during meals or other activities such as watching TV or playing games on a computer. Your child can also get upset easily when they are overtired and doesn’t get enough rest during the night.
To fix sleep deprivation in your child, the first thing you can do is to try to limit the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen.
Try not to let them play on their computer or watch TV too much, especially in the hours before bedtime. The blue light from the screen may mess with their hormones and makes it harder for them to sleep.
You can also make sure your child gets enough sleep at night by having a consistent bedtime routine and dedicating a period of quiet time for your child when they are sleeping.
2. Bad Dreams
Toddlers may also have trouble falling asleep at night because of nightmares or night terrors.
Nightmares are a common problem for children during the preschool years. Nightmares are when a child has frightening dreams that are often quite realistic.
They usually happen when your child is overtired and unable to sleep. When they have a nightmare, they may get upset or start crying in their sleep.
If this happens, you should try to comfort them by holding them until they fall back asleep or by giving them a hug. You should keep them company until they fall asleep. You can also leave the door open so they feel more comfortable sleeping alone in their room.
If you think that your toddler has a more severe case of night terrors, however, the above tips may not be enough.
If your child has recurring sleep terrors, then you should take them to see their doctor so that they can be diagnosed properly. In some cases, they may need to be treated with medication.
You can also visit a special sleep clinic and refer to a sleep technician for this issue.
3. Sleep Regression
Oftentimes, a toddler goes through a period of sleep regression. This is commonly known as the 2-year-old sleep regression, as it often happens when a child is around 2 years of age.
When the 2-year-old sleep regression occurs, it means that a toddler who used to have fairly stable sleep patterns suddenly begins to have bedtime struggles.
If your child has experienced the 2-year-old sleep regression, then they may not be able to fall asleep at night or stay asleep.
When the 2-year-old sleep regression happens, your child will wake up every few hours during the night and may even need a bottle of milk or a pacifier to help them fall back asleep.
The 2-year-old sleep regression usually happens because of the brain and body development they’re having. They learn so many new things everyday that it ends up causing sleep disruptions at night.
It can be because they’re enjoying their newfound independence. In contrast, they might instead be having a case of separation anxiety.
To handle the 2-year-old sleep regression, make sure to be cautious of your child’s health. If they’re staying in a crib, ensure the crib’s safety. This way, their nightly waking won’t end with them stumbling out and hurting themselves.
You should also maintain a regular bedtime routine to combat the 2-year-old sleep regression. Have a calming bedtime routine consisting of changing their clothes, brushing their teeth, and more. This gives them time to wind down before bed.
4. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a very common problem for toddlers.
It is when a child’s breathing stops or pauses during sleep, which can lead to daytime sleepiness and other issues.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome occurs when the airway of the throat collapses while they are sleeping. This causes the muscles in the throat to become paralyzed, which causes the airway to collapse.
This leads to repeated interruptions in breathing and waking up due to a lack of oxygen.
If your child has obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, they may have some of these symptoms: A snoring or loud abnormal breathing noise at night that wakes you up, or loud gasping noises when they wake up during the night.
These can be caused by the airway collapsing during sleep, but it can also be because their chest is rising up and down as they breathe in and out.
The child may wake up more often than usual after falling asleep due to gasping for breath from their sleep apnea.
As obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a more severe case of sleep disorder, it is recommended that you get professional help for it. Take your child to an expert sleep consultant to see what can be done.
They might be required to take prescribed medication for it, or even get surgery done. If your child is overweight, weight loss can help solve sleep apnea.
Furthermore, make sure the air in their environment is clean. They should not be inhaling secondhand smoke, allergens, or pollutants.
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