Sleep plays an essential role in every child’s growth and health. Our body repairs, regenerates cells and refreshes the mind during this period. Children are likely to perform better and are less prone to behavioural problems and moodiness with a good sleep. Below are some common sleep myths and facts parents should take note of.
Myth: Babies need a perfectly quiet place to sleep.
Fact: Babies are already used to hearing and sleeping with some background noise.
The womb is actually a very noisy place filled with noises such as the mother’s digestive sounds and heartbeat. To help babies sleep better, use white noise recordings (eg. ocean waves or rainfall), lullabies or soft music to soothe and calm their minds.
Myth: Not taking naps will make a child sleep longer at night
Fact: A child’s biology is not created to go from morning to bedtime without a rest.
Nap and night-time sleep are both necessary and independent of each other. Children who nap well are usually less cranky and sleep better at night. The table below shows an estimate how much night-time sleep and naps children of different age require.
Myth: Keeping a baby up late will make him really tired so he’ll fall asleep.
Fact: Once a child becomes overtired, it will be difficult for him to fall asleep.
The child should be put to bed when they are feeling drowsy, but awake. Take advantage of your child’s natural biology so that he is actually tired when his bedtime arrives. You can help align sleepiness with bedtime by dimming the lights in your home during the hour or two before bedtime.
Myth: A good sleep means sleeping through the night
Fact: One in three children wakes up at night.
As frustrating as it is to parents, night waking is normal. It is natural to have the child waking and feeding frequently, especially during the first three months. Furthermore, all human beings wake up five or more times each night, when shifting from one stage of sleep to another. The issue is not for a child to sleep all night without waking up, but for a child to be able to fall back to sleep.
Myth: Children will learn how to fall asleep on their own, as it’s a natural process.
Fact: Parents can take steps to start cultivating good sleeping habits from young
Although some children do learn to self-sooth more easily and naturally than other babies, for most babies it is a skill that they need to learn. Parents can help children to form positive associations with sleeping. The child who falls asleep on his own will be better able to return to sleep during normal night-time awakenings.