Is your child getting enough sleep?

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  What is considered the optimum sleeping time for a primary school aged child?

Young children don't often recognise that they are tired and can become fatigued very quickly.  This usually results in a demonstration of fractious, weepy, clingy and irritable behaviour, which can be difficult to control.  As children get older they are more likely to identify when they are feeling drowsy and will be less resistant to going to bed.  Chidlren aged four to six tend to sleep between 10.5 to 11.5 hours a night, although most children of this age will have difficulty sleeping at some point.  They may resist going to bed, may wake up in the night, may accidentally wet the bed and they may be scared of the dark.  As children grow the need for such lengthy sleep reduces and by the time the children are aged six to twelve they will need around 10 hours a night.  Any sleep problems at this age are likely to be linked with worries at school or with friends or other family memebers.  Other common causes of childhood sleep disruption might be nightmares and bed wetting.

The most effective way to combat any problems and create a good sleep pattern is to establish a regular bedtime routine so your child knows when they have to go to bed each day. Start by constructing the perfect sleeping environment for your child using blackout blinds or curtains where possible and a suitable duvet and bed covers for the time of year.    Ideally the room temperature should be between 160  and 240 .  Bedtime should be around the same time each evening which follows a consistent routine.  After dinner encourage quiet play, followed by a bath and then read a favourite story.

On the whole the occasional sleepless night will not affect a child's wellbeing, but if the insomnia continues it will affect a child's behaviour as he/she is likely to feel lethargic, will find it increasingly difficult to concentrate and eventually may start to nod off in the classroom.  If a child's health is starting to suffer as a consequence of sleep deprivation see your GP for more advice.


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