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The importance of good sleeping habits at preschool.

Mariana Prieto e Isabel Gonzalez.

Sleep is the factor and habit that most affects the human body.

Not sleeping well alters our entire nervous system, which is why it is important that our children sleep and rest properly.

Some of the many benefits of sleeping well:

  • Better mood

  • Hormone regulation: Sleep plays a huge role in balancing the levels of melatonin, cortisol, and essential growth hormones that keep our bodies functioning.

  • Protection against diseases: sleep helps stimulate and regulate our immune system.

  • Memory consolidation: The brain can process new information and the motor skills you have acquired during the day. You'll then save some of this data to memory, work to keep others, and decide which ones you no longer need.

How much sleep does a child need? A child between 2 and 6 years old should sleep between 10 and 12 hours, these hours include night time sleep as well as naps. For example, your child can take a 2 hour of nap during the day and sleep the remaining hours at night.

There are two stages of REM and NON-REM (NREM) sleep, in the phase where we get the true rest is in the REM phase or "rapid eye movement". We usually get REM sleep about an hour and a half after falling asleep. When you have finished a full sleep cycle, you will start again in stage one and this will repeat until you wake up. The first round of REM in a night lasts about 10 minutes; the stage gets longer and longer each time you enter REM sleep.

In preschool age, the REM stage is reached much faster than adults.

Have you ever felt like you just can't wake up? You open your eyes wondering where you are, what time it is, and even who you are. When this happens you’ve probably been woken up in the middle of REM sleep.

In sleep, our brain by nature uses our thoughts and eliminates all moral barriers or the "super self" (our consciousness is not active), and that is when our unconscious comes to action in our dreams. That is why we have nightmares with our greatest fears or we dream of very strong emotions or situations that happened that day that we could not fix.

There are important factors that we have to consider in sleep in preschool age. The fact that the child goes to sleep in his bed is a developmental milestone, that is, they are circumstances that make a child go from one stage to another (stop breastfeeding, potty train, stop drinking from a bottle, etc.) Sleeping in their own bed is an important milestone in the development and life of a small child.

But... When does my son have to sleep in his own room? We recommend that a child move to his or her own bed at the latest by two years of age.

A good sleep routine equals a healthy and rested child.

Let's remember the importance of routines in preschool-age children. Creating a sleep routine is very important to them, as they feel safe in them. Routines must be firm and constant.

Tips to start the process of sleeping alone:

  • Do it in a positive way, not as a punishment. Explain to him that sleeping alone will be very good for him, that big children do it, and avoid comments as if going to sleep alone is a punishment.

  • Buy a new pillow or blanket, which can provide security and involves the child in the transition.

  • Use a "reward" or bedtime activity like a relaxing massage, reading a story, etc.

  • Play a relaxing song before bed.

  • Use a light bulb with very dim light.

  • If he wakes up at night, you have to return him to his room. Be firm and consistent with the routine, if one day you allow him to sleep with you, we will need to start from the beginning. The rules are there to stay, but for example if he has a nightmare, you can sleep with him for a while, etc. Sleep should feel like something nice and pleasant.

  • Explain to them how the routine will work so that they do not go to sleep with anxiety.

  • Communicate to them as parents that they are able to follow that routine. This helps them a lot with their autonomy.

  • No screens before bed. Giving a child a screen will stimulate their brains instead of calm them down.

  • The routine must be practiced by both mom and dad and any other caregivers, both have to agree on the decision that their child needs to start sleeping in his own bedroom.


- What do I do if my child is sleepwalking?

It is important NOT to wake them up if they are having a sleepwalking episode. Guide them gently back to their bed.

- Why do children wake up hungry at night?

From birth to 6 months their blood sugar regulation system lasts only 2 hours, as they grow, their body learns to retain sugar for more hours. Since they turn 6 months old, their system is already mature and they no longer need constant food. When they turn one year and a half they can go 10 to 12 hours without eating.

- What do I do if my son wakes me up in the middle of the night asking me for a bottle?

When little ones ask for a bottle, it is more about an eating habit or some emotional factor involved.

- How do I do it if my son for health reasons slept in my room for a while and now he doesn't want to return to his room?

When they are sick, there can be exceptions. Health is a priority, and then you can resume the routine. Or you can go but to sleep with him in his room while he recovers his health.

- How long is long enough for a good nap for my preschool age child?

From the age of 3 it is recommended to eliminate the nap, since this can affect their hours of sleep at night. If there is a nap for one reason or another, it is recommended that it last approximately half an hour.


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