Children’s circadian rhythms and bedtime

Many parents with young children wonder how to get their children to sleep well, get enough sleep because babies are restless and fussy while sleeping.

Every living thing in an organism is a series of periodic changes. All of these are called circadian rhythms. Interestingly, there are many living rhythms of the organism that correspond to the rhythm of nature’s movement that we can easily notice, such as human sleep-rhythm, day-night activity rhythm of the the animals and the period of flowering that results in each spring of the plants …

Human Sleep – Rhythm: These rhythms have been formed for a long time due to the interaction of the body and the environment. So the circadian rhythms are both intrinsic (like when astronauts fly into space or when we send creatures into dark caves, they keep the same rhythm – sleep the same), externality (for example, night shift worker will adapt by sleeping compensated during the day, or when people go from latitude to another latitude, still adapt to all activities in new circumstances).

Our task is to adjust the internal body rhythms and external rhythms to always harmonize and unite, to avoid disturbances that are detrimental to the body. For humans – especially children, in the process of life and development, the rotating activity of sleeping and waking is an indispensable natural physiological need. Sleep rhythm is the “key rhythm” that influences and governs all other life rhythms of the body.

Sleep time depends on age and the requirements of each body. In adults, every 1 hour of activity must compensate for half an hour of sleep. In children, the need for sleep is very high, for every 1 hour of activity to compensate by 2 hours of sleep, which is 4 times more than adults. Younger age, higher need for sleep (Babies sleep 20-22 hours a day).

When growing up, the need for sleep will gradually decrease, to 1 year only 16 hours, 2 years old to 14 hours, 3 years old to 13 hours. When 16 years old, only 8 hours like adults. The sleep time mainly at night, especially for children, the daytime sleep time is also very important. Each individual has different sleep needs. We need to ensure and maintain its natural rhythm. Distributing the appropriate regimes and times according to each age stage and each individual body is the decisive factor.

How to help children have a good sleep?

Children should be trained in the habit of sleeping early and sleeping right at a set time, in order to give them a reflex of rest, to help children sleep easily in any conditions.

Minimize external and intrinsic stimuli to the child’s nervous system during sleep. The most important thing is to avoid noise and light as they make a child’s sleep less deeply and easily awake. In addition, other factors such as letting children hungry or eating too full, not being hygienic, clothes too tight, lying in the wrong position, and a dirty and not well-ventilated place are all harmful to sleep.

It is important to avoid psychological trauma such as making children psychologically inhibited before going to bed because they are intimidated, yelled at, listening to scary stories, watching horror movies etc. urinate while sleeping, gently clean and put the baby to sleep, do not scold the child.

Sleep time is related to age

Is sleeping time related to age?

The amount of sleep depends on the age and needs of each person. On average, an adult’s hours of activity should be offset by hours of sleep. In children, the need for sleep is very high, because it is during sleep that developmental activities take place in a positive way. Normally, for every hour of activity you should compensate for 2 hours of sleep, which is 4 times more than adults!

Along with the time of growing up, the sleeping time will gradually decrease, if an infant needs 20-22 hours of sleep / day, a 1 year old child has only 16 hours, 2 years: 14 hours, 3 years: 13 hours and to 16 years old, it only needs 8 hours like an adult. Of course there are children who will sleep more or sleep less, it does not matter as long as they are active learning and playing normally.

The majority of sleep time is at night, but daytime sleep for children is also very important. Each child has different sleep needs, parents should care and respect their child’s sleeping rhythm.

  • Children 1-4 weeks: With infants needing sleep about 15-18 hours per day, each sleep usually lasts 2 – 4 hours. However, for premature babies, the amount of sleep can be longer, and babies with colic may sleep less. At this stage, because children have not formed their own biological clock, sleep often does not follow the cycle of day and night. This is the stage when your baby needs the most sleep.
  • Children 1-4 months: Need 14-15 hours of sleep a day. When babies are 6 weeks old onwards, they usually sleep a little less. However, sleep times are longer and last 4-6 hours, often with a tendency to sleep more at night.
  • Children from 4 months to 1 year: At this stage, the ideal child should sleep 15 hours per day, but in reality in children under 11 months of age usually only sleep about 12 hours per day. This is the most important stage for children to form a healthy sleep routine because at this time they begin to integrate more into society and the sleep cycle begins with the same as adults.

Fast sleep and slow sleep?

Sleep is composed of many cycles with two different states. Each cycle is divided into 5 phases. Slow sleep accounts for about 80% of the sleep time in children. Expressed by slow waves on the EEG consists of 4 stages with increasing depth. In these stages, the body’s activities such as heart rate, breathing rate, and basic metabolism gradually decrease to a minimum.

Fast sleep follows slow sleep, accounting for about 20% of the time remaining. In this stage, the EEG is represented by rapid waves that are almost the same as when awake. These two types of sleep follow each other at night forming several consecutive cycles, each cycle for children takes about 90 minutes, infants 50-60 minutes and adults 120 minutes.

It is found that during slow sleep, the pituitary gland in the brain releases growth hormones. This hormone plays a very important role in restoring health and promoting growth of the child’s body. When children are more physically active such as playing, exercising, playing sports etc. slow sleep will increase the child’s sleep and make it easier to sleep.

Unlike slow sleep, fast sleep will help children recover from mental fatigue, such as schoolwork, psychological trauma, and impact on the maturation of the nervous system. It works to strengthen memory, help children remember for a long time and remember more carefully the information recorded.

Fast sleep will increase when children are practicing a certain art activity such as dancing, singing…. If you prevent or wake the child in this stage, the child will easily forget, mentally stressed, irritable, irritable, fussy, and not clear when studying.

Help children have a good sleep

To build a sleep and rest activity in accordance with the circadian rhythm and development needs, parents should note the following points:

Children should practice sleeping habits early and at a certain time, early sleep here depends on the child’s circadian rhythm, which may be different and not the same as the circadian rhythm of parents. This will help children form a reflexive habit, which will help children fall asleep more easily.

Need to minimize the external stimuli as well as internal to the nervous system of the child during sleep. The most important thing is to avoid noise and light, as they make a child’s sleep less deeply and easily awake. In addition, other factors such as letting the child be too hungry or too full, the body is not clean, the clothes are tight, lying in the wrong position, the place where the sleeping is dirty, cramped and not well-ventilated are all harmful to sleep.

It is necessary to avoid psychological trauma that causes children to be inhibited before going to sleep, such as threats, scolding, telling stories of ghosts, horror etc. lying down, instead of nagging or punishing because it makes it easier for the child to… pee more easily.

Fun activities and entertainment during the day will help children sleep better. Lulling the child with songs, gentle knife songs and insinuations: “You are good mother, good night, sleep …” also helps children sleep easier.

It should let your child sleep according to the prescribed time, practice habits for babies to sleep on time. It is a bit difficult to train children and eat and sleep patterns at first, not overnight. If the baby can be put in the framework, the mother’s eating and sleeping will be leisurely.

Create a comfortable feeling for your baby before going to bed: If you achieve a comfortable feeling, your baby will more easily start sleeping. To do this, parents should spend time with their baby to tell stories or massage the child, and if possible, take a warm bath before going to bed.


Help babies and infants sleep well

How much sleep for babies is enough

Sleep and sleep time of infants and young children play a very important role in the physical and mental development of the baby. However, how many hours is enough for babies? This depends on the body and the age of each baby. Here, mothers refer to the information to know how the child’s sleep time is suitable.

Infants usually sleep 16-18 hours every 24 hours, day and night at regular intervals. When they are three months old, their brains begin to develop, babies will sleep more at night and 2-3 more naps during the day. These naps are distributed in the morning, afternoon, and early evening. However, not all babies are the same. Therefore, each baby will have a different sleep time. There are many children who barely sleep during the day. Children three months old and older will sleep less. A child’s wake up time is usually between 2-4 hours.

Children in the first 6 months

An infant’s sleep is very important to a child’s development. So how to make your baby sleep well and form good sleep habits?

Newborn babies sleep a lot, usually sleeping 16 to 17 hours a day. But most babies don’t get more than two to four hours sleep at a time, day or night, during their first weeks of life.

Sleep irregularities sometimes make you tired. When you first become a mother, you will have to get used to having to wake up a few times in the middle of the night to lull, feed, and calm your baby.

Children from 6 months to 12 months

Sleeping time: This time the child is full of energy and always wants to play and explore, so parents need to give the child enough sleep to stay healthy. Every night, children need to sleep from 9-11 hours and sleep 3 – 4 hours (divided into 2 naps) during the day. Thus, the child’s total sleep time is about 14 hours per day.

Lack of sleep is the main culprit ruining your good sleep pattern. In many cases, parents let their naps skip a nap. For example, when the weather is so beautiful, the sky is clear, the sea is full of waves, making me excited and unable to make him stay indoors.

The period from 6 to 12 months is a period with many big changes for children, they have learned to speak, learn to walk and so, they expand their “communication relationship”, so they will continue receive a large amount of information, this information on the one hand helps children increase awareness, but also increases the “resistance” in children. Children also begin to fear about what will happen to them, mothers go away from work, have to sleep separately, meet many strangers etc. these worries can make it difficult for children to sleep.

When the bedtimeregularly, the amount of night sleep will be adjusted by the child’s body, although the child is still “lacking in flexibility” still “worries away from the mother”. But when the day is not enough, the fatigue will increase, the child is awake and it is very easy to wake up, thus lack of sleep.

Infants sleeping with their parents are prone to suffocation

The risk of dying from asphyxiation among children under 8 months of age sharing a bed with an adult is 40 times higher than for those who sleep well in their own world. The most dangerous is when the baby sleeps next to a drunk father or mother.

Children under 8 months of age cannot yet slip out of thick adult blankets by themselves.

Lead researcher James Kemp of the University of St Louis (UK) said that young children cannot get rid of the troubles themselves such as being curled up in thick adult blankets, being squashed or stuck between beds and wall. At that time, if the adult cannot recognize it in time, the child is very likely to die. Kemp et al. Analyzed the cause of infant death between 1995 and 1998 and found that the number of children who died from asphyxia from sharing a bed with their parents tended to increase.

The most dangerous is when a child sleeps next to a parent who is taking relaxation medications, sleeping pills, gets drunk or gets too tired after a day of work, Kemp said. They can hold the baby while they are drunk without realizing it.

What to do if the child is startled to sleep

Many children startled for no reason at all. But in many cases, noise is a major factor in this. When she stepped into the world filled with strangers outside the womb, for the first time she knew it was so noisy. What is the sound of closing and opening the door, what is the ringing of the phone, what is the sound of a dog barking, what is the sound of starting the computer etc. Life, which is quite quiet and gentle since the baby was still in the womb, suddenly suffers. turn upside down. Baby restlessness and startling reflexes occur as a basic instinct to protect themselves.

Therefore, in order to overcome the situation that infants do not sleep deeply or startled, you must first ensure that your baby’s bedroom is completely quiet. Please “clean” the noise causing noise like phones, computers out of this space, and should turn off the lights when your baby sleeps to create a feeling of comfort.

For normal startles due to the noise around, families should pay attention to avoid making noise while the baby sleeps, perhaps walking softly and quietly, so that the neatly tidy objects avoid breaking and causing sound. big… Just being a little careful with family members, the child can sleep soundly, sleep well, not be startled.

In addition, if the baby is constantly startled with many other uncomfortable manifestations, mothers also need to see a doctor to see if the baby has any internal problems or healthy brain development. .

Particularly with the lack of calcium, vitamin D and other trace elements, mothers need to add immediately.

Methods to help children walk on time

Once you have a set sleep time, the daytime activities should go smoothly. The easiest way to set a fixed bedtime is to start a routine that you and your baby will follow each day: go to bed early.

You can’t force your baby for the first few months, but you can start doing it after 2 months.

To ease sleep, mothers bathe their babies with warm water, breastfeed / bottle feed and then turn off the lights to sleep. If your baby feels sleepy while breastfeeding for the first few months, that’s okay. But when your baby is 3-4 months old, you should try to keep your baby awake so he can fall asleep on his own.

Create tranquility

Initially, we must create good conditions for the child to sleep: quiet. If a child really needs sleep, he or she will hold off and go to sleep alone, quickly or slowly.

No one can put an excited child to sleep. After dinner, there should be a gentle form of activities for children to relax, such as telling a story, watching a short cartoon, or a mother and child confide in, gentle exchanges etc. The calming effect created will help the baby sleep more easily.

Let your child brush their teeth and go to bed

Most children like “ritual”. Therefore, there is a need for a “procedure” to bring babies to bed and this must be followed regularly, except for special events such as Tet holidays, visiting grandparents. Children will get used to and gradually enjoy the sequence of rituals: brushing teeth, peeing, listening to read stories, being cuddled and turned off the lights. Depending on the lifestyle of each family, appropriate steps should be set up.

Decisively leave where your baby sleeps

The story has been told, the doll has been placed with the baby, the affection is over …, the “process” is over. It is time to turn off the lights with good night and leave the place where the baby sleep. If you prolong these activities, if you hesitate, your baby will immediately feel and ask for half the time to stay awake. Should go decisively, without compromise with the child. Children need enough time and feel safe in bed. Your decision will conquer your child.

Apply the “rule” firmly

Many children have gone to bed but still do not sleep right away but find ways to “buy time”: when they ask for water, sometimes urinate again (although this has been done according to the “process” before). If we give in, it will never end. Be determined not to return even if your baby asks. Just give in once, your baby will know how to control you. Remember that once you get back into the child’s bed, you have expressed some concern and the child will notice. If you are determined, your child will trust and sleep more peacefully.

insomnia in child

For young children, sleep has the nature of a circadian rhythm. In the early months of the baby, the rhythm – sleep is the basic rhythm of life. Good sleep for children is a guarantee for health because it is a time to restore energy for activities, to master the nervous system, to promote endocrine functions, especially for growth. .

Although it is not as complicated (has many stages) as sleep in adults, sleep in children is not simple, because every night sleep also often alternates many sleep cycles with two phases: a quiet sleep phase. (with steady breathing, which corresponds to deep sleep in adults) and disturbed sleep (with strenuous movements of limbs and smiling faces, blushes, etc., corresponding to sleep phase inverse in adults). Each of those stages has different meanings, researchers say:

– The quiet sleep phase helps children recover physical energy and especially at this stage, the body releases many growth-stimulating hormones.

– The disturbed sleep phase helps children to recreate images seen at waking time to begin dreaming and clears mental activities as well as inner subconscious – Some people emphasize the effects of taming the nervous system of the child at this stage (reprogramming of the central nervous system from genetic information).

–  As for nocturnal sleep, the child’s physiological awakening occurs between midnight and 5am at a rate of every one and a half to two hours. It is said that a child has insomnia when a child is slow to fall asleep or slowly returning to sleep after waking up. Fear of the dark and daydreaming can make children feel scared and cry, struggle when they wake up and at that time it is essential to have adults by their side to cuddle, comfort and reassure children to sleep again – too anxious, hurry to give sedative when the child does not sleep much, sometimes it is harmful by disturbing the child’s physiological rhythm

– It is best to observe the chronological record of the “awake” circadian rhythm in 24 hours in a few days, to help the physician when examining the child to identify the right situation: in addition to how to take care of the child’s sleep and psychological causes, physicians can find a physical cause. insomnia for children such as: sore throat, itchy eczema, gastrointestinal disturbances, etc etc. Must be wary of night manifestations such as struggling a lot, refusing to suckle, vomiting, etc etc. Compensation causes the baby to wake up late, which in turn causes the child’s daytime and dark naps.

The biological cycle between sleep and wakefulness in babies is as follows

New born babies have the need to sleep up to 16-17 hours per day and then gradually decrease until 6 months of age, the same ratio of time to wake up – sleep (12 hours / 12 hours) is maintained until 1 year. Children 3 -5 years old still need to sleep up to 11 hours and children 6-12 years old need 9 -10 hours of sleep a day.

In terms of the pace of sleep, infants are initially distributed in 4-hour intervals (should not affect feedings) and starting from 3 months onwards, sleeps New nights last longer (however at night the child still wakes up about 10% of the time sleeping until 1 year of age). If children aged 1-2 years have 2 cycles of sleep in 1 night (that is, one time waking up at night), children aged 4 will hardly sleep any more day. At the age of 5, it is difficult to coax a baby to sleep during the day, but this ability increases during puberty.

An understanding of the circadian rhythms of early childhood sleep is necessary to properly assess each time a child is sleep deprived, without subjectively based on the biological rate of sleep in adults and adults.

help children overcome nightmares

Babies’ sleep can often be disturbed by terrifying nightmares.

Nightmares happen very suddenly and are frightening for many children. During a nightmare, the child is in a semi-conscious state and it is difficult to have a good night’s sleep afterwards.

Night-time phobias usually occur in the first 1-2 hours of sleep, while nightmares usually occur when children are quite sound asleep.

Nightmares can happen to anyone but are most common in children, especially ages 2-6. When having nightmares, children will startled awake in the midst of dreams and quickly regain consciousness and easily balance their psychology, they can clearly recall the nightmare content.

In the fear of the night, children will scream, punch and kick everything but will not be aware of their surroundings and become more difficult to calm. When they woke up the next morning, they would have no memory of last night’s actions. Such fears usually happen once in the night and disappear after a few months.

Parents can easily tell if their child is having a nightmare or having a panic attack last night with superficial symptoms. The cure is not that difficult. With children having nightmares, reassure them and create a habit of sleeping on time, you should also pay attention to whether they are under excessive stress.

When your child has a fear attack during the night, do not try to wake or talk to them, it is best to lie beside them, petting them and prevent them from accidentally hurting themselves. After a few days of early bedtime, symptoms should no longer appear.

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