How important is sleep for your toddler?
Quality sleep is extremely important for your toddler to ensure they are focused and happy during their waking hours. Maintaining a solid bedtime routine won’t necessarily guarantee your child will have a sunny disposition when they wake, but it will set them up for success. Naptime is also a crucial part of the sleep equation that your toddler must get to ensure that they can continue growing in more ways than one. Let’s look at some of the key facts pertaining to sleep, what happens when your toddler doesn’t get enough sleep, and how they can get more sleep.
Why is sleep so important?
A toddler’s brain is always working and growing (even when they’re sleeping!). Many studies have found that the combination of a good night sleep and a daytime nap can positively affect a toddler’s memory if done consistently. The key for daytime naps is to ensure that the child is sleeping for roughly 70–80 minutes straight. The key is to get just enough sleep for the child to feel refreshed, but not too much to negatively effect their normal bedtime. One study found that when toddlers ages three to five years old hit these preferred nap time and bedtime quotas that they showed 15% greater memory improvement than those who did not. Although learning and memory are the focal points for most scientific studies, many parents have observed remarkable behavioral differences in their children after they have transitioned to this type of sleep schedule.
What happens when your toddler doesn’t get enough sleep?
Toddlers brains have the capacity to grow at an enormous rate, but only if they can get enough sleep which, for their age group, is anywhere between 10 to 13 hours a day according to the National Sleep Foundation. If your child isn’t getting that much sleep, they may be exhibiting signs of sleep deprivation in their waking hours. Be on the lookout for what researchers call “behavioral insomnia” which is where toddlers begin to test the limits of their bedtime. This stall tactic can manifest itself in requests such as asking for everything from getting another hug to another glass of water and anything else to extend their bedtime. If you find that your child is exhibiting these behavioral insomnia tendencies, make sure that you set firm limits once you rule out that their insomnia is based on any type of anxiety. The last thing that you want to do is make your child’s nightmares more extreme by forcing them to adhere to a specific sleep schedule.
How to ensure that your toddler gets more quality sleep?
Keeping your child from getting restless and losing sleep can be remediated by having them eat a healthy dinner after getting at least 60 minutes of exercise that day. Parents should also get in the routine of reading printed books (not eBooks) to their child before bed. Studies have shown that eBooks upset the circadian rhythms of your child’s brain which causes their brain to race after they head off to sleep. Reading printed books is a great way to relax your child’s mind and help them drift off to dreamland and retain what they had learned that day for the next days down the road.