Infants and children’s sleep

[Skip down if you want to read more about older children and sleep.]

I’m Penny Williams Acupuncture and at my clinic in Aroma in Cardiff I use acupuncture, tui na massage and acupuncture point stimulation to support children with sleep issues to sleep better. Click here to find out more about acupuncture for children.

What is normal sleep?

Babies’ circadian rhythms are absent before 3 months, reasonably well established by 6 months, and properly in place by a year. By the time a baby weighs about 15 lbs, they should ideally be able to sleep through the night. It is still normal, however, for a 1 to 2-year-old to wake 2 or 3 times a week.

What are the sleep issues that may need a helping hand?

If your child wakes up frequently, so that their (and your) sleep is often disturbed, then you may want to consider taking action. Even if your child only wakes up a ‘normal’ amount, how they are when they wake up may be something to consider. For example:

  • frequent nightmares,
  • being restless and finding it difficult to go off to sleep (either at bedtime or if they wake in the night),
  • seeming fearful and/or waking early (e.g. 5 a.m.) and is then wide awake ready for the day,
  • being hot, thirsty, restless, angry or clingy,
  • having overly intrusive dreams, sleep-talking or sleepwalking,
  • seeming in pain, pulling up their legs, liking to sleep on their tummy.

There are also older children who wake because they have wet the bed, but I’ll cover this in another blog. Do contact me if you would like to know more before then.

What may help in the meantime?

There are some things we can do to help our children to sleep better, lots of which you are probably familiar with:

  • Having a calm bedtime routine using dim lights, trying to help with that switch from active daytime activity to calm sleep,
  • having a cooler environment to go to sleep in,
  • making sure that your child doesn’t get overtired; I know that being tired and wired is one of the worst things for my sleep,
  • not having chocolate too close to bed – that caffeine rush can make them seem as though you’ve just put new batteries in!
  • not eating too close to bedtime, to let their digestion have a chance to work before lying down,
  • making sure their last nap isn’t too late in the day, although this can be so hard if you are driving back from anywhere later on.

Older children

Life for our children seems to be getting busier and busier, with long days at school, lots of after-school and weekend activities, parties etc. There is also the stress of school (homework, exams etc) and friendships. On top of this, there are so many screens in our young people’s lives, with their stimulating blue light and the constant adrenaline rush of computer games and the social anxiety involved in who is liking who. All these can affect our children’s sleep.

Some of this can be helped with rules around devices, or dropping some activities, but acupuncture can also really help children to feel calm and to settle. It an also be really helpful to have someone who is on their side talk but not emotionally involved talk to them about how different behaviour can affect their sleep. We often find it hard to take advice from the people we love, but can hear it from other people. Frustrating, but true!

Contact me if you want to know more

If you have any questions about acupuncture (not just needles) for your child and their sleep, do message, text, email or call me to find out more. Sleep is so important for our children’s development, and as parents, we need not to be disturbed too!

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