Preschool : Sleep
Updated: a day ago
• Pre-School (3-5 years)
Sleep Patterns - What to Expect
Between the ages of 3 and 5 years your child still needs between 10 and 13 hours of sleep every night. Your preschooler has an active imagination and that paired with other factors can mean your child is still waking during the night. However, it is unusual for children to frequently get up in the middle of the night or want to get out of bed. If you need to get up during the night with your preschooler, generally its advised to soothe them back to sleep but do not offer any snacks, playtime or treats – as it can give a sense of rewarding their night time behaviour.
Preschoolers may still be having a 1-2 hour nap each day, which often stops when they reach 5 years of age. However if your child rejects naps time, don’t worry. Kids of this age may or may not need a nap, depending on their growth and activity and energy levels. Even if your child refuses to nap, they should have some form of peaceful rest-time – a scheduled time at the same hour each day for simply resting. This doesn’t have to be for the purpose of deep sleep but taking away stimulation and being quiet will still ensure they are getting important downtime.
Settling Your Preschooler to Sleep
At this age, settling your child to sleep can be a challenge for many caregivers. Realistically, most preschoolers don’t head off happily to their room when its bed time. Resistance to bedtime is common so be prepared for a few struggles.
Whether your preschooler has trouble falling or staying asleep, you may be able to help your child establish good sleep habits by sticking to a set bedtime. Staying up too late or going to bed at a different time each night will disrupt your child’s internal clock and may make it more difficult for them to fall asleep, as over-tiredness is the main cause of sleep-deprivation. If you put your child to bed early – ideally around 7pm, that will ensure they get their much-needed sleep. Some parents may consider that time very early to go to bed – it is – for parents. But children still need far more sleep than adults to thrive.
Bedtime struggles may appear following a significant change or loss in your child’s life, leading to anxiety and fear of being alone. Or your child may be one to call out during the night for you- they may have a dirty nappy, need comfort or be scared – some children do not like the dark or are scared of imaginary ‘monsters’.
You can reassure your child by getting a night-light so they are not in complete darkness, or doing a check of their room with the lights on for any ‘monsters’. Of course, your child may be calling out because they want or need something, so go to them if you think they need your help or something is wrong. Vocalising what you are doing as part of their bedtime routine can sometimes soothe your child at nighttime.
Blog – Sleep Difficulties and how to address them
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