Does your child have a hard time sleeping ? Does he get up a thousand times every night to go to the bathroom or ask you for a glass of water? You have no trouble sleeping but get up very early? Do you have night terrors ? Regardless of the problems, many parents use the same solution: tire children during the day so that they fall asleep earlier. Has it worked for you? Maybe not and it’s normal. The reasons why your child does not sleep the recommended hours or seems not tired can be many, however, these types of behaviors are typical in children who are very nervous, insecure or who continuously seek the attention of their parents. Therefore, depending on what is the cause of the problem, we must give you a different solution.
WHY TIRING KIDS TO SLEEP DOESN’T WORK
A typical strategy in parents is to tire the child with various sports so that every afternoon they are busy with exercise, mistakenly believing that this way the child will arrive more tired to bed, falling asleep earlier and maintaining it. This strategy can work for you if we are faced with a child who does not have any type of emotional problem but it may backfire … When a child arrives too tired to bed, the opposite effect is achieved, it may take little time to Falling asleep, however excessive tiredness increases the chances of having night terrors at night. And because? When we sleep we go through this series of sleep phases in order:
-Light sleep phase 1 : sleep initiation. It is when the eyes close and the physical world begins to fade, it is easy to wake up.
-Light sleep phase 2. Sleep itself begins, the body begins to relax, the heart rate and temperature decrease.
-Phases 3 and 4. Deep sleep phases. It changes our brain activity, we have slow waves. These are the stages in which the body rests, a state of deep muscle relaxation is entered and it is difficult to wake up. This is the stage in which tissues, bones are repaired and the immune system is strengthened.
-REM or REM phase (Rapid eye movements). It is the phase in which the person dreams. The muscles contract, the temperature rises and the vegetative system is activated. It appears about an hour and a half from the beginning of sleep.
IT’S COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO NIGHT TERRORS
Now that we know what the sleep phases are, we will easily understand why tiring children does not make them sleep better. When a child is overly active during the day and comes to bed exhausted and the body needs to lengthen phases 3 and 4 of deep sleep in an attempt to repair tissues and muscles that have been overloaded during the day. So far, well, the problem is that not only does the duration of phase 4 increase but it will also be more intense and when it comes to moving to the next phase (REM phase) the body will not manage the change in an adequate way and the child it can get “stuck” between the two phases. As a consequence, the child may suffer an episode of night terror.
It is important to clarify that night terrors are not nightmares . They are episodes where the child “wakes up” screaming, sweaty, scared and moving a lot. It is something that worries parents because the child has an “exaggerated” reaction and they do not know how to react. The child is not really awake, he is still asleep but with his eyes open. It occurs because the transition from deep sleep to REM is not well managed when the central nervous system is still immature, which is why it is more rare to find these episodes in adults, however it is relatively normal in children between 5 and 10 years of age. The problem is that when children come to bed too tired we are increasing the chances of triggering such an episode because the body will seek longer and more intense phases of deep sleep, making it difficult to change to the next.
IT’S USELESS WITH NIGHTMARES
The nightmares of children are not related to having little sleep if not for a stimulus that is stressing him so much that your child has sport will continue to have them until they disappear anxiogenic stimulus that is concerned. It can be a thousand things, perhaps something you have heard or seen the day before, however many of the nightmares that children have are based on social anxiety, usually related to school or daily life concerns such as fear of be rejected, ridiculed or forgotten. Insecure and nervous children may even have more if the sport they have signed up for is not good for them.
IS YOUR CHILD SEEKING ATTENTION?
If the problem is that your child has a hard time going to sleep because he gets up every little bit asking you for things. Tiring him will not help much, you can get that if he is very tired he is not so aware of you but value if it is worth it that your son is so exhausted that he falls asleep. Children who do not get enough restful sleep do poorly in school the next day, are more irritable, and tend to throw tantrums more often. Also, you have to think with future perspectives, it may work for you temporarily, but how long can you continue to maintain that rhythm?
If he only seeks your attention, you should not give it to him when he gets up , reinforce him on the contrary, tell him how proud you are of him because he no longer asks so many things of you. A good way to change these behaviors is under a points or token economy program , but it is important that for the program to work it is well designed and that we do not apply the first thing we see on the internet, because if we do not do it correctly we could worsen the behavior, ideally designed by a child psychologist.
IF YOU HAVE HYPERACTIVITY IT WORKS IN PART
Only in cases where children have hyperactivity does it seem to work, but even so you cannot expect miracles, it is more effective to follow adequate sleep guidelines for children with this symptomatology and physical sport is only one of them.