Nightmares and sleepwalking: what to do if the child does not sleep well

I would forbid the common phrase «sleeping like a baby», and introduced the saying «if you want to know what the world looks like at 3 in the morning, have a baby.» Most women enter motherhood with a firm conviction that the first months of life the child will sleep sweetly. After, of course, he will sleep less, but 2-3 hours in the afternoon is sacred, before school. And then they come to me for an appointment, and I become an involuntary guide to the real world. I will try to introduce the peculiarities of children’s sleep here, perhaps, to someone in advance.

How much should a child normally sleep?
The approximate duration of a child’s sleep by age.

1-3 months — 13-18 hours a day

4-12 months — 12-16 hours a day

1-2 years — 11-14 hours a day

3-5 years — 10-13 hours a day

6-12 years — 9-12 hours a day

13-18 years — 8-10 hours a day

The figures are, of course, approximate, and the main criterion of the norm is the well—being and development of the child. That is, if your 5-month—old baby sleeps 10 hours a day and at the same time develops normally, is cheerful and cheerful – this is his norm!

What are the features of children’s sleep?
Now about the quality. A child’s sleep is very different from an adult’s sleep. Most of the night he is very superficial, so the baby fidgets, moves in his sleep, makes various sounds — this is normal.

Daytime sleep in a baby up to 4-6 months is often not formed, and looks like periodic dozing for 10-30 minutes many times during the day. Then, gradually, more rare, but prolonged daytime dreams begin to form.

It is difficult for children to transition from one phase of sleep to another. Babies often wake up at this moment, about every 40 minutes. Sometimes they immediately fall asleep again on their own, but often they need mom’s help — breast, nipple, pumping.

Nocturnal anxiety in children — when to go to the doctor?
At preschool age, sleep improves, but other problems often appear — parasomnia. These are all kinds of night terrors, nightmares, sleepwalking, talking, bruxism, and so on. These phenomena occur in 1.5-2 years and last up to 6-7 years, and sometimes up to adolescence.

Teeth grinding in a dream is a benign phenomenon of sleep and does not require the search for worms! It also does not require treatment. Periodic dental examinations are needed, as sometimes, very rarely, tooth enamel can be erased. In this case, special pads are made on the teeth — mouth guards, they are used during a night’s sleep.

Night terrors, nightmares, sleepwalking
Up to 40% of preschool children have these unpleasant conditions. Approximately it looks like this — the child begins to scream loudly at night, more often 2-3 hours after falling asleep. Or runs screaming to his parents. Or he jumps up and starts walking around the apartment excitedly, muttering incoherently. In general, everyone wakes up.

The child can respond adequately to attempts to calm down, gradually calm down and fall asleep — these are nightmares — I had a bad dream. So, if the child is adequate, reacts, remembers the content of the dream, everything is simple — you need to calm down, sit next to, drive away monsters and so on.

Night terrors (or night terrors) and somnambulism
The child can push away, fight, not react at all. The child does not see and does not understand you. He shouts something incoherent and is very excited. Parents just have to sit next to each other and wait for it to end. This will happen in 5-30 minutes. It is necessary to be close, because in a state of uncontrolled excitement, a child can get injured. I would not advise actively calming, slowing down, waking up the child — this often leads to lengthening, more frequent episodes. The same tactic is used when sleeping.

What should parents do?
In case of nightmares — remove the cause. Most often it is the Internet and TV before going to bed, attending entertainment events, psychological overload, stress.

Night terrors and sleepwalking — if they happen often, you need to set the time when they usually occur and wake up the child 15 minutes before the expected episode during the week. With rare episodes — just wait for it to outgrow.

Important! When sleeping, it is necessary to ensure a safe environment, first of all — to close the windows.

When should I see a doctor?
Frequent episodes of parasomnia, when the sleep of the child and the family is significantly disturbed — during the day the child is sluggish, capricious, school performance decreases.

Parasomnia is very short, up to 1-2 minutes, or stereotypical, when all episodes are very similar to each other. Accompanied by involuntary urination, vomiting, twitching. In such cases, the doctor should rule out nocturnal epileptic seizures, which sometimes look very similar to parasomnia.

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