Are you facing one of these problems? Your kid won’t sleep. It keeps getting up. Your (little) child doesn’t want to fall asleep alone. Or not sleep at all. The worst thing about children’s sleep difficulties or difficulties falling asleep is ultimately their own lack of sleep, which gets worse and worse until they feel as if they are walking on their gums and no longer have the strength or nerves to cope with the everyday challenges they face with their child. At some point the desperate thought of „What can I do, my child won’t fall asleep“ comes to mind! There are remedies and solutions that I would like to show you in this article.
We will address the following questions and problems, among others:
Why is sleep so important for babies and children? How much sleep does a child need, the amount of sleep children need (with table), When do children sleep through?
How can you end a sleep problem and how to get kids to sleep? Here you can find an answer.
Help! My kid won’t sleep! How to get kids to sleep?
Babies, toddlers and teenagers need significantly more sleep than adults to support their rapid mental and physical development. Most parents know that adolescent children need sufficient and good sleep, but many do not know how much sleep children actually need and what the effects can be if they only miss 30 to 60 minutes of sleeping time.
But why is it often so difficult to recognize when our children do not sleep sufficiently? This is because sleepy children do not show the same signs of fatigue and behaviour as adults do. We often get tired very slowly, don’t really want to move or talk any more – in contrast, tired children usually turn up all the time. In fact, sleepiness in infants and older children can give the impression of symbols of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children often act as if they are not tired, fight against fatigue and get overexcited in the course of the evening. And when you actually want to put it to sleep, it often ends in real bedtime dramas. All this happens simply because the child is overtired.
Why is sleep so important for children?
Basically, we all know that good enough sleep is important for our children and their well-being. If children haven’t slept enough, they’re cranky, turned up and moaning until our heads smoke. Concentrated gaming – no chance.
But what exactly is behind it and why is it so important that babies and children get enough sleep and their need for sleep is covered?
Sleeping makes children grow
Undisturbed sleep is essential for health, learning and growth. About 40% of a 24 hour day children spend sleeping, at least they should. This is also a good thing, because in deep sleep the growth hormone is formed, which is responsible for the growth of our child and all its organs. Conversely, a permanent lack of sleep actually leads to growth disorders.
The two sleep cycles, REM and non-REM, both play an important role in development. During the non-REM cycle, the blood supply to the muscles is increased, energy stores are replenished, tissues grow and the systems are repaired. Their body then switches to the REM or active sleep in which they dream.
Babies spend about 50% of their time in non-REM sleep because they grow so fast, but this stage decreases with age.
So it is true – children grow in their sleep. It is therefore important to help our children get a good night’s sleep. Not only so that we as parents can have peace and relax, but also so that our children can flourish and grow in the best possible way.
Sleeping strengthens the immune system
In times of stress or growth, we tend to sleep more. The body uses this time to regenerate and become fit again. Our body releases cytokines that fight infections during sleep. If we do not allow time for this nightly regeneration, we are more susceptible to infections. We all know the feeling of simply wanting to sleep when we are ill. This is exactly the body’s instinctive protective mechanism to get enough sleep for recovery. It is therefore no coincidence that people proverbially say that sleep is the best medicine.
That is why it is so important that our children get enough sleep and time for the necessary regeneration. First of all, not to get sick at all. And to get better if she did get an infection. Because even if our children are healthy, the immune system’s defences work non-stop and they need the time in deep sleep for regeneration. Therefore, the immune system becomes weaker if it does not have enough time to recover.
Sleeping makes children smart
During sleep, the brain organizes and catalogues the information of the day. It processes at night what it has learned during the day. During deep sleep the cognitive learning contents, such as vocabulary, are processed, whereas during light sleep movement sequences, such as cycling, are processed.
A study carried out by the University of Tübingen on 8- to 11-year-olds clearly showed that sleep is particularly important for learning success, as the brain processes what it learns during the day during sleep. The researchers found out that sleep consolidates what has been learned, but also facilitates future learning. For knowledge is classified in such a way that it can also be transferred to newly acquired knowledge. According to this study, children even outperform adults in this „transfer“ due to their longer deep sleep phases. (1)
„Sleep not only consolidates what has been learned, but also facilitates future learning, since the knowledge is arranged in such a way that it can be transferred to newly acquired knowledge,“ explains Prof. Hans-Jürgen Nentwich, member of the board of the Professional Association of Pediatricians and Youth Physicians (BVKJ). (2)
The best bedtime for children
The best time to sleep for children naturally depends on the family’s daily routine and on when the day begins and the child has to wake up. The following sleep chart may help to determine the best bedtime for your child depending on the age.
How Much Sleep Does A Child Need Table
Each child is its own being and not only has an individual character, but is also biochemically unique with its own personal sleep pattern. Nevertheless, there are guideline values for bedtime that show the „ideal“ sleep and wake-up times of a child. However, this should not mean that your child should sleep exactly according to this scheme and you should not let yourself be annoyed or unsettled if your child sleeps more or less. These are only clues.
|Neugeborene 0-3 Monate||14 bis 17 Stunden||11 bis 13 Stunden 18 bis 19 Stunden||Weniger als 11 Stunden Mehr als 19 Stunden|
|Baby 4-11 Monate||12 bis 15 Stunden||10 bis 11 Stunden 16 bis 18 Stunden||Weniger als 10 Stunden Mehr als 18 Stunden|
|Kleinkind 1-2 Jahre||11 bis 14 Stunden||9 bis 10 Stunden 15 bis 16 Stunden||Weniger als 9 Stunden Mehr als 16 Stunden|
|Kindergartenkind 3-5 Jahre||10 bis 13 Stunden||8 bis 9 Stunden. 14 Stunden||Weniger als 8 Stunden Mehr als 14 Stunden|
|Schulkind 6-13 Jahre||9 bis 11 Stunden||7 bis 8 Stunden 12 Stunden||Weniger als 7 Stunden Mehr als 12 Stunden|
|Jugendliche 14-17 Jahre||8 bis 10 Stunden||7 Stunden 11 Stunden||Weniger als 7 Stunden Mehr als 11 Stunden|
|Junge Erwachsene 18-25 Jahre||7 bis 9 Stunden||6 Stunden 10 bis 11 Stunden||Weniger als 6 Stunden Mehr als 11 Stunden|
|Neugeborenes||8 Stunden (3 Schläfchen)||8 Stunden 30 min||16 Stunden 30 min|
|Ein Monat||6 Stunden bis 7 Stunden (3 Schläfchen)||8 Stunden bis 9 Stunden||14 Stunden bis 16 Stunden|
|Drei Monate||4 Stunden bis 5 Stunden (3 Schläfchen)||10 Stunden bis 11 Stunden||14 Stunden bis 16 Stunden|
|Sechs Monate||3 Stunden (3 Schläfchen)||11 Stunden||14 Stunden|
|Neun Monate||2 Stunden 30 min (2 Schläfchen)||11 Stunden||13 Stunden 30 min|
|12 Monate||2 Stunden 30 min (2 Schläfchen)||11 Stunden||13 Stunden 30 min|
Age Recommended Appropriate Not recommended
Newborn 0-3 months 14 to 17 hours 11 to 13 hours 18 to 19 hours Less than 11 hours More than 19 hours
Baby 4-11 months 12 to 15 hours 10 to 11 hours 16 to 18 hours Less than 10 hours More than 18 hours
Infant 1-2 years 11 to 14 hours 9 to 10 hours 15 to 16 hours Less than 9 hours More than 16 hours
Kindergarten child 3-5 years 10 to 13 hours 8 to 9 hours. 14 hours Less than 8 hours More than 14 hours
Schoolchild 6-13 years 9 to 11 hours 7 to 8 hours 12 hours Less than 7 hours More than 12 hours
Youth 14-17 years 8 to 10 hours 7 hours 11 hours Less than 7 hours More than 11 hours
Young adults 18-25 years 7 to 9 hours 6 hours 10 to 11 hours Less than 6 hours More than 11 hours
How much sleep does a newborn and a baby need?
Here I would like to point out a further table in which the sleep needs of newborns and babies are specifically pointed out. Again, these are only guideline values and not must-have values to which you can orientate yourself.
Old Day Sleep Night Sleep Total Sleep
Newborn 8 hours (3 naps) 8 hours 30 min 16 hours 30 min
One month 6 hours to 7 hours (3 naps) 8 hours to 9 hours 14 hours to 16 hours
Three months 4 hours to 5 hours (3 naps) 10 hours to 11 hours 14 hours to 16 hours
Six months 3 hours (3 naps) 11 hours 14 hours
Nine months 2 hours 30 min (2 naps) 11 hours 13 hours 30 min
12 months 2 hours 30 min (2 naps) 11 hours 13 hours 30 min
It is very likely that your baby will not sleep more than one to three hours at a time during the first months of life. This is also necessary because it needs regular food in addition to sleep. His stomach is still small and can’t absorb as much at once, so it’s only natural and healthy when it feels like it wants to be breastfed hourly.
If you want to know more about sleep behaviour and sleep problems of newborns and babies, you can subscribe to my newsletter and you will be informed about new articles. Because one of my next articles will specifically deal with the topic „How much sleep does my baby need and how do I deal with sleep problems“. There I also deal with topics such as the optimal sleeping environment, extra beds and that for and again the family bed. And, of course, I also deal there with the crucial question of how you as a mother can get enough sleep to be fit for everyday life with your baby, child and household.
How much sleep do young people need?
As the table shows, young people need about 9 hours of sleep per night, but between school, sports and other activities they usually get only 6 to 7 hours of sleep.
The only question is how much sleep they actually get from being constantly distracted and occupied with smartphones, tablets and consoles. This raises the question of whether school fatigue, learning frustration, poor grades, mood swings and generally bad, grumpy mood during puberty can only be attributed to puberty, as has been customary so far, or whether it is not simply and simply (also) a lack of sleep?
Researchers at Flinders University, Australia, found out in a study that was frightening. Young people who went to bed later than midnight were 24% more likely to suffer from depression and, frighteningly, 20% more likely to commit suicide than young people who were in bed until 10 pm. Furthermore, the study clearly shows that even small changes can have great effects: only 19 minutes of extra sleep showed a significant improvement in their condition and abilities throughout the day. (3)
It is therefore still important, even for young people, that parents ensure adequate sleep and, if necessary, negotiate bedtime or media hours with their young children. In practice, this can also be done simply by blocking the Internet access at the router, e.g. from 10 p.m. onwards.
How many hours of sleep do you need?
But in the end, the question also arises, what about me as a mother? Or father? Can I even get enough sleep?
We all know sleep deprivation isn’t good. Sleep deprivation affects us in many ways. Mood. Immunity. Energy. Patience. Coordination. Brain function. The list goes on and on. Usually parents actually suffer from a considerable lack of sleep. Especially mothers in the first months and even years of life. And this despite the fact that children demand almost one hundred percent during the day and need full attention and vigilance. But how can you compensate your lack of sleep and how can you get enough high-quality sleep in the future? I will go into this in the course of this article.
Signs that children can’t get enough sleep.
But back to the kids. How do you know they won’t get enough sleep? Here are some clues.
- furious quickly
- outbursts of fury
- lack of enthusiasm
- Accidents, falling down
How can I help my child get enough sleep?
It is nice to see how much sleep a child should ideally get, but less beautiful and often really nerve-wracking if the child simply does not want to sleep. There are two completely contrary ways of dealing with the issue of children’s sleep.
On the one hand, attempts can be made to introduce the children to a self-determined way of dealing with their own sleep. Ultimately, however, this also means that the child can actually decide for himself when he feels tired and wants to go to sleep. There are no real bedtimes here that are set by parents.
In contrast, the children are given clear rules and Go to bed times. The parents specify here when there is a shift in the shaft and when the child should go to sleep.
Both ways work through habits. And both require a healthy structure and daily routine. There is hardly a child who will be able or willing to go to sleep when he or she sits in front of his or her console or smartphone with sweets and coke until late in the evening. Studies have shown that the media blue light of e.g. smartphones disturbs falling asleep and a good night’s sleep enormously. The same of course applies to nutrition. If you give your child stimulating food in the early evening, e.g. things containing sugar, you don’t need to be surprised if it can’t come down and doesn’t get tired.
So no matter which way you want to go as a mother, the sooner you help your child to develop good, sleep-promoting habits, the better. You will be able to read right away which habits are beneficial and which are obstructive.
How to set healthy sleep times
A good night begins with a good morning. Set regular morning waking times. In most cases, these occur automatically at the beginning of kindergarten and school. Also try to structure the rest of the day and introduce a routine, homework times, meal times, play times. Children live on routine, and predictable daytime rituals help them prepare for a night-time routine.
When it comes to the nocturnal ritual, it is best to start up to 1 hour before going to bed. In this way you give your child enough time and help him to relax and recover. If the whole sleep routine and falling asleep works better, you can reduce the evening routine to 30 minutes if necessary.
A nightly routine can include the following:
- A dinner together
- reading aloud
- Listen to an audio book (together)
- Family prayer time
- Reflection of the day through conversations
- Easy exercises/stretching
- A small cup of chamomile tea or warm milk with honey
- Play quiet, relaxing background music
- Together some relaxed singing
- A small massage, e.g. of the feet with essential oils
- Child-safe, relaxing essential oils in the children’s room (depending on age).
Nightly routine for older children and adolescents:
Older children and adolescents can follow the same basic routine, but they will probably just want time for themselves in the evening. Otherwise, it’s a good idea:
- Dinner together
- Relaxed conversations, no conflict issues
- Active listening!
It can be very helpful if you as a parent start early to show your child that in the evening they can reflect on their day, their experiences and their feelings with you. That you listen to him. That you don’t blame him for anything he tells you. That it feels good to be able to share your experiences and worries with someone and sleep so much more comfortably. If you introduced this at an early age, the children still like to keep it, even if they grow up to be adolescents.
The most important thing is really to start early enough with the evening routine, so that your child gets to bed on time and not when he or she is already overtired and turned up. Your child should be tired right now, but not overtired yet.
My kid won’t sleep, what do I do now?
Hopefully the tips mentioned will help you to a quieter evening routine. That would be great, of course. And you are still faced with these problems: My toddler does not sleep through. My kid won’t sleep alone. My toddler won’t sleep. Because there are phases in which our children do not want to go to sleep or want to delay falling asleep. A lot of excuses come up….
the question of a (or another) glass of water,
Hunger comes up,
Mama shouldn’t leave the room.
or lie down and don’t get up.
The best tips for keeping your child in bed and falling asleep
if your child is younger and you have a family bed anyway, then you could arrange your evening so that you actually go to bed with your child and just stay lying down and fall asleep by yourself.
Maybe you don’t want to sleep yet, but you want to read? Then you could use a Kindle Paperwhite, it has integrated light, but not the harmful blue light of the smartphone. You could make out with your kid that you stay with him, but just read.
But if you want to get up:
Cuddly toys or cuddly pillows and a cozy bed in general are very helpful in ensuring that your child has no or less fear when you leave the room.
A little night light can help keep the room from getting so dark.
Leave the door open and the corridor light on so that your child can still hear the light and your family sounds. It doesn’t feel that way alone.
Spray an „anti-monster spray“ consisting of essential oils suitable for children, such as bergamot, lavender, vetiver and ylang ylang.
Light back crawling is very pleasant and makes you sleepy. You can use a (ticking) timer and crawl as long as the timer is ticking.
Always lovingly bring back to bed when your child gets out of bed but all needs are actually met.
The anticipation of the next morning can help you fall asleep. Tell your child what to expect and what her beauty has in store for her as soon as she sleeps and wakes up the next morning.
Tell your child how it grows big and strong at night while sleeping, this is especially helpful for boys.
Group pressure can sometimes be very helpful! Go through all your kid’s friends and tell them they’re all asleep.
Which you shouldn’t do:
Do not promise your child any rewards for staying in bed and sleeping and do not reward him for it either.
Of course don’t punish your child for getting up again and again or not wanting to sleep.
Don’t lock the door to the room so it doesn’t come out. This only reinforces fears that may already exist.
Do not use the „go to bed“ or the children’s room and the bed in general as a punishment. Your child should look forward to going to sleep and to his bed and not be „punished“ by it.
An insider’s advice? Let them go to sleep on their own
Maybe all the tips fail or maybe you don’t want to give your child an evening bed routine and bed times. Then you can also go the „unconventional“ way and let your child decide for himself when and how he wants to go to sleep. This can and should also be accompanied as a mother or father. This does not mean that you do not take care of your child or leave it to itself. Self-determined going to sleep can be a real miracle for sleep problems and perhaps the problem is not necessary, your child does not want to sleep as if by itself. Soon I will publish my own article about it. If you want to be informed when it appears, you are welcome to subscribe to our newsletter.
What you should avoid for a a successful bedtime routine
Actually a matter of course, but sometimes it is overlooked or not noticed: Avoid caffeine! I’m assuming you’re not giving your kid coffee to drink. But caffeine is also found in other drinks and foods: In coke, but also in chocolate!
No sugar before bed. Like caffeine, sugar has a stimulating effect and gives your child a new energy boost. Avoid therefore in the evening, possibly already starting from the afternoon of all sugar-containing beverages and food. Use soothing and tiring snacks such as warm milk, yoghurt or cheese.
Avoid using media before going to bed. Watching TV as well as using a PC, console or smartphone prevents a healthy tiredness and getting down of the body. Both the blue light and the „mental“ stress have a stimulating effect and lead to your child not being able to rest at all. I’d rather read another book together.
Avoid bright light. This also interferes with the melanin production needed to make your child tired.
Avoid conflict talks or stirring conversation topics in the evening. Logically, this leads to your child being much too excited or anxious to sleep.
Avoid night lights during sleep. This is fine when your kid fall asleep, but as soon as your child is asleep you should turn off the lights so that your child can really get a restful night’s sleep. Lights prevent this because they irritate the body.
Children and going to bed – our conclusion
You can try to develop a nice bedtime routine. Do your best, but don’t stress. Remember, life isn’t perfect and not every night is the same. Don’t let setbacks unsettle you. Just take them because they’re part of it. Even if you’re still at the point of „my kid won’t sleep, help, what can I do?“ Remember, introducing a new routine is not easy and requires work, patience, time, nerves and strength. So don’t expect miracles overnight. Changes and new habits take time.
What’s about you?
I would very much like to hear your experiences, especially…
what are your bedtime routines and what’s your evening like?
What kind of trouble do you experience at night?
What are your ultimate tips to help you fall asleep?
https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/how-much-sleep-do-babies-and-kids-need https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51181167_Time_for_Bed_Parent-Set_Bedtimes_Associated_with_Improved_Sleep_and_Daytime_Functioning_in_Adolescents https://www.familie.de/gesundheit/kinder-schlafen-542089.html https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a7645/how-much-sleep-does-your-baby-need https://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/sleep-children#1 https://www.faminino.de/baby-schlaeft-nicht/