Parent survival guide to sleep

cheerful little girl standing in the crib at home

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) Sleep is food for the brain and very important for the body. Humans spend a third of their lives sleeping – an estimated 25 years or more! Sleep problems can affect people of all ages, but it can be especially problematic for children.

Dr. John Schuen of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital says sleep is important for children’s growth, development, and ability to function during the day. In school age children, it can affect their ability to listen, comprehend, pay attention, and complete tasks on their own.

Many primary care physicians are asking about sleep at every well child visit. If they don’t, parents should speak up if there are problems.

Maranda asked some parents at Frederik Meijer Gardens if they had questions about sleep and brought those questions to Dr. Schuen.

Question 1: 5-year-old still wakes up in the middle of the night on most nights. How do you break that cycle?

Answer 1: Try to find out what is causing him to wake up. How a child gets to sleep is as important as what’s happening in the middle of the night. Does the child have a quiet, peaceful environment? A white noise device? Are they going to sleep on their own? It’s good to make sure the child has a comfort object to make him feel secure.

Question 2: Two of my children sleep great, but my son wakes up in the middle of the night, crying. Why?

Answer 2: Every child is different, even from their siblings. It pays to find out why he is waking up. Is he easy to get to sleep? When he wakes up, what are the factors associated with it? Is he snoring?

Question 3: How do I get my newborn to learn the difference between day and night?

Answer 3: Promote wakefulness during the day. Make sure there is plenty of sunlight during daylight hours and stimulate they baby by talking and play with him or her.

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