By the time children are six months old, their nighttime sleep pattern is usually very similar to an adult’s. By the time they are a year old, sleep should occur in one uninterrupted block of time.
Naps usually begin to shorten and decrease over the first three years and by the age of four, typically are no longer needed. At that point, a child should be getting anywhere between eight and 11 hours of sleep each night.
Some children simply grow out of sleep disturbances, but there is sometimes an underlying condition causing the problem. Untreated pediatric sleep disorders have been linked to problems including obesity, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, slow growth, hormonal and mood problems.
If you think your child may have a problem with his sleeping habits, contact your pediatrician to find out if a sleep study might be needed. Some symptoms your child may be experiencing that could indicate a sleep issue are:
During a sleep evaluation, your child will be monitored throughout the night by a sleep technologist. Painless sensors that look like stickers will be placed on your child’s legs, chest and head.
The technologist will track indicators like heart rhythm, oxygen levels, brainwaves, eye movements, breathing patterns, oxygen saturation, movement while sleeping and carbon dioxide levels.
After the evaluation, a physician will look over the results and provide you with a report. This information will tell you if a child needs further evaluation or a therapeutic device to assist with sleep.
Avoid food or drinks that may prevent your child from sleeping (like caffeinated beverages)