The Importance of Sleep

We all need sleep and it is paramount for babies and toddlers to grow and develop. Sleep deprivation can have a number of profound effects on a child’s mental, physical and emotional health. A child who is sleep deprived is unlikely to be able to meet their full potential, as it can affect their mood in turn can impact on behaviour. As adults we can get grumpy if we don’t have enough sleep.

Children in the early years are more likely to be irritable if they aren’t well rested. They can also find it even more difficult to control their emotions resulting in increased frequency of tantrums than may be expected.

There are a number of key signs to look out for including

  • Taking long naps
  • Clumsiness
  • Increased appetite
  • Hyperactivity
  • Poor concentration
  • Unusually emotional
  • Difficulty falling asleep due to being overtired
  • Physical appearance

Parents can often feel anxious when their child is first starting nursery especially around how they will sleep and it is a big adjustment for both children and parents. It is quite normal for the best sleepers to regress with their sleep routines whilst they adjust to their new environment where it may be noisier or lighter than they are used to. Could you imagine trying to go to sleep in a room with lots of other people – it would certainly take some getting used to! The level of stimulation and constant ‘business’ can cause an excess of adrenaline by the end of the day, which can lead to some bedtime battles.

How much is enough?

Below are the optimal sleep requirements for children aged from birth to 17 years.

  • Newborn aged 0-3 months:14-17 hours of sleep (including naps)
  • Infants aged 4 to 11 months: 12–15 hours of sleep (including naps)
  • Toddler Children aged 1 to 2 years: 11–14 hours (including naps)
  • Children aged 3 to 5 years: 10–13 hours (including naps)
  • School aged Children aged 6 to 13 years: 9–11 hours
  • Teenagers aged 14 to 17 years: 8–10 hours

Supporting families
When a baby or child is not sleeping well at night, this usually means that neither are the parents. Deprived sleep can affect parenting, relationships, wellbeing and health.

We work in partnership to support parents when they are implementing changes in sleeping practices and we can signpost them to early help.

Many parents believe, for example, that knocking the daytime nap off will help their little one sleep better at night-time. This of course is not true, a daytime nap can actually be hugely beneficial and help a child to fall asleep more easily at night-time. Becoming over tired can increase the hyperactive behaviour making it more difficult to fall asleep at night.

A Safe Sleeping Environment

At Portland Nurseries we work towards embedding good sleep routines and promoting healthy sleep habits. We aim to ensure that all children have enough sleep to support their development and natural sleeping rhythms in a safe environment.

In addition to planned sleep times, all children have the opportunity for rest or sleep throughout the day both indoors and outdoors. We create quiet and comfortable environments within the nursery rooms to provide free choice for rest and babies have opportunity to sleep in our wonderful outdoor environments in our fabulous silver cross prams.

The safety of babies’ sleeping is paramount. Our policy follows the advice provided by The Cot Death Society and Lullaby Trust to minimise the risk of Sudden Infant Death.

We recognise parents’ knowledge of their child with regard to sleep routines and will, where possible, work together to ensure each child’s individual sleep routines and well-being continues to be met

Top Tip- Take something familiar:

If your child has something they usually associate with sleep such as a comforter, favourite teddy or blanket, please bring along to nursery so you’re your child have it at sleep time. It’s always worth buying a ‘spare’ though in case one gets lost/left at nursery!

For more information please read the Nursery Wold Best Practice Guide "All About Sleep"

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