Do child sleep patterns feed through into adult life?
…With more things packed into the same amount of hours as before, babies and children simply can’t keep up. In fact, they are often over-stimulated and take longer to get to sleep or get back to sleep and their sleep patterns are suffering. Even more than adults, babies and children need the right amount of sleep at the right times.
Lets first look at the effects sleep deprivation can have on a growing infant no matter what age:
Research suggests that poor sleep patterns can delay an infant’s physical, emotional and mental growth.
The proof of this is that once a family I have worked with, has completed a personalized sleep plan, those parents have reported a substantial physical growth ‘spurt.’ Infants who previously were static started crawling, others took their first steps and never looked back, many started feeding themselves and the younger ones grew gleaming toothy smiles! Toddlers and children were reported to be eating more and reaching developmental milestones rapidly. Some appeared to be getting less coughs, colds and other illnesses and were just calmer and happier. Interestingly, fathers comment that their infant is more confident or independent and, at the same time voluntarily showing more affection to their father and other family members. Some mothers noticed significant changes in mental growth ie improved speech, willingness to follow instructions, much happier and less manic or tantruming behaviour, good concentration for problem-solving, calmer reasoning.
So the question I am frequently asked is “How much sleep should my baby or child be getting?” It’s not just about “how much” but also about the quality of sleep relative to your infant’s age. It can vary a little from one infant to the next but not that much!
When parents first call me and describe their infant and their concerns, they sometimes say: “I think he is one of those babies/children who just doesn’t need that much sleep because he doesn’t seem tired and still has lots of energy to spare”
Very often, a sleep-deprived baby or child may become a little ‘manic’ and look like he just has lots of ‘high energy’ when, in fact, it is the infant’s way of coping with the lack of sleep. When the parent then asks me to help them work on their infant’s sleep, they are surprised at how quiet and placid their infant becomes. He generally has a better concentration for most things including calm playtimes and is less ‘needy’ too. Once the sleep training has worked and their infant sleeps peacefully, many parents then think their infant has become ‘subdued’, again seeing it in a negative light. In fact, what has really happened is that, with more sleep, their infant doesn’t feel the need to be manic and is actually being his true healthy, calmer self. We suggest that with all this lovely sleep, perhaps it is time for the parents to stand back a little and observe, even allow themselves time to adjust to their infants ‘sleep-filled’ and true personality. It’s really wonderful that this personality is now able to shine through without the blurring effects of sleep deprivation both to the infant and to his parents. Dynamics change and the need to just survive the day vanishes whilst it is replaced with a better, more organized and fun-filled day. The parents begin to really focus on the positive aspects of parenting and not just on the fear of sleep or rather the lack of it!
So by giving the gift of sleep to your child, the solid sleep patterns he acquires before 2 years of age will carry him through to adolescence and beyond. It’s true food for thought when you think of the studies and exams that will be a part of your child’s future and taking him right up to adult life …
Suzy is completely non-judgemental and here to help you. She respects your values and adapts her advice accordingly. If you would like to discuss your concerns around your infant’s current sleep situation, take that first important step and Contact Suzy.