Sleep Train Your Child Using Natural Remedies

Edited by Christine dela Cruz, Robbi, Lynn, Jonathan and 3 others

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Training a child is not an easy task for parents. It involves a lot of conditioning, consistency and discipline. Often, parents lose patience with the training before the children learn. This automatically leads to the formation of habits that are not productive. One of the most challenging things to teach your children, is how to sleep at regular hours. Fortunately, there are several natural ways to achieve this.

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Specifics About Sleep

On the average, people spend about a third of their life sleeping. Ideally, you should sleep eight hours a night. Sleep is an essential part of your well-being. Without enough sleep, the mind will suffer greatly.

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Sleep is a natural state that the body demands on a regular basis. This state is characterized by a complete lack of, or reduction of normal consciousness. Activities of the senses usually stop and almost all voluntary muscles become inactive. Also, what distinguishes clearly a sleeping person is their inability to respond to stimuli around him or her. However, unlike someone in a coma, the situation is easily rectified. You just wake up.

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Sleep is said to create a higher anabolic state, which promotes development, growth, and rejuvenation of various systems of the body, such as skeletal, muscular, immune, and nervous systems. Some studies also say that sleep helps to preserve energy, although this may be more related to the fact that metabolism is reduced by about 5-10 percent during sleep, which is why sleeping after a big meal is not recommended.

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It is a very important process, and the body must undergo sleep in the proper way. Suppressing sleep for too long significantly impacts significantly a person's or animal's physiological equilibrium.

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Stages of Sleep

  1. 1
    The first stage.
    This is the start of the sleep cycle and is overall very light compared to the following stages. In fact, this stage is more like a transition from being awake to falling asleep. At this stage, the brain creates theta waves which are slower brain waves compared to the three others. This does not last for a long time, in fact, only 5-10 minutes. If a person is awakened from this stage, he or she might even say that he was not really sleeping because it feels that way. Some people, in this state, are aware of what's going on around them, but find it difficult to react.
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  2. 2
    The second stage.
    This takes about 20 minutes to occur. This is when brain activity begins to become more rhythmic and rapid and it is generally referred to as sleep spindles. Also, the body temperature and heart rate become noticeably lower at this stage.
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  3. 3
    The third stage.
    This is when slow but deep brain waves begin to occur. These brain waves are referred to as delta waves. This stage is considered the transition from light sleep to very deep sleep.
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  4. 4
    The Fourth stage.
    The slow delta waves that begin to occur in stage 3 continue on to Stage 4. This is also the reason why this stage is sometimes called delta sleep. Sleep remains to be very deep at this point and lasts for about 30 minutes. Because of this, sleep phenomena such as sleepwalking or bed-wetting may occur toward the end of this stage.
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  5. 5
    The Fifth stage.
    Dreams occur during this stage of sleep. This is accompanied by what is called rapid eye movement (REM), a higher respiration rate, and an increase in brain activity. Ironically, however, although there are various activities going on at the same time, the muscles of the body become much more relaxed. This is the reason why this stage, aside from being called REM sleep, is also at times called paradoxical sleep. Dreams are a byproduct of the increase in brain activity.
    Christinedelacruz Stages of Sleep 67.jpg
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Typical sequence of stages during sleep

Although the stages are numbered, in reality, they do not occur in this exact sequence. Sleep would typically progress this way:

  • Stage 1
  • Stage 2
  • Stage 3
  • Stage 4
  • Stage 3
  • Stage 2
  • Stage 5
  • Stage 2

This sequence will normally repeat through the night four or five times.

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Benefits of Sleep to the Body

  1. 1
    Improves memory.
    As seen in the stages of sleep, brain activity becomes really intense during sleep. Because of this, memory is strengthened and you are somehow training your brain to practice certain skills learned during wakefulness. This process is referred to as consolidation.
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  2. 2
    Longevity.
    Several studies on sleep have linked lifespan to whether or not a person had been deprived of sleep. Some studies have concluded when people regularly lose sleep regularly over a period of time, their lifespan is significantly shorter compared to those who have maintained good sleep patterns.
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  3. 3
    Prevention or relief of inflammation.
    Inflammation is usually connected to diseases of the heart, diabetes, arthritis, and even premature aging. People who sleep fewer hours than the ideal amount normally have higher levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood than those who meet the ideal amount of sleep.
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  4. 4
    Increase level of creativity.
    Not only does the brain reconcile learned things during sleep, but it also reorganizes them and puts them into a structure. This then leads to better creativity.
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  5. 5
    Better attention and learning.
    People who are able to sleep well are normally more capable of focusing on what they do and learn more quickly.
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  6. 6
    Increased stamina.
    It's true that sleep is an excellent way for the body to recharge itself. It allows the body to recuperate from day-to-day stress. Therefore, the body ends up being more energetic the following day.
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Sleep Patterns of Children

The wakefulness to sleep cycles are called circadian rhythms. This is typically influenced by environmental factors such as light and darkness. Light normally indicates it is time to wake up, while darkness sends a signal to the body that it's time to rest.

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These circadian rhythms take some time to develop. That's why newborns tend to have very irregular sleep patterns. This can be very tiring, literally, for the parents, especially a nursing mother. Because circadian rhythms take time to adjust to a schedule, you might be lucky and have a baby who begins sleeping regularly by six weeks, or you may have a child that takes more than a year to develop good sleeping habits.

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Until the age of two, children normally spend a lot of their time sleeping. This is good though because sleep directly influences physical and mental progress.

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Sleep Patterns and Age

  1. 1
    Newborn (1 - 2 months).
    At this age, newborns normally spend more time asleep. They only wake up to be fed, cuddled, and changed. Overall, newborns may sleep from 10-18 hours in a single day. These hours are very irregular and not on a continuous basis. On average, however, newborns will remain awake from one to three hours straight, then sleep for another few hours, then wake up for a while again. It is also noticeable that newborns are very active during sleep, with a lot of twitching, smiling, and restlessness.
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  2. 2
    Infant (3 - 11 months).
    At this age, feeding time has become more regular and it is not required anymore in the middle of the night - hopefully. Therefore, this is a good chance to teach babies to sleep through the night without any distractions. Babies normally sleep from nine to 12 hours, and there will be short naps throughout the day.
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  3. 3
    Toddler (1 - 3 years).
    As toddlers are normally very active, 12-14 hours of sleep in a day is reasonable. Sleep time is usually split into two, one in the afternoon and then one at night. In most cases, once they reach their second year, sleep becomes once a day only.
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  4. 4
    Preschooler (3 - 5 years).
    Preschoolers tend to spend about 11-13 hours in a day sleeping, with some naps in between. However, the problem with this age is that preschoolers normally experience disturbed sleep at night because of nightmares and fears. Also, sleepwalking and sleep talking are at a peak at this age.
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  5. 5
    School-aged Child (5 - 12 years).
    Children at this age usually get less sleep because of demands in school and other social activities. Media has also affected sleep patterns a lot, especially with the internet and computer games. It is very important that discipline is implemented at this age, otherwise, children may be prone to sleep disorders that may affect their overall health, and affect them throughout their lives.
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How Sleep Benefits Young Children

  • Improvement in grades. This is mainly because children, especially those at the peak of learning complex things (age 10-16), require sleep in order to be able to focus better and retain and understand more effectively what they learned during wakefulness. The brain processes all information absorbed while awake and organizes this information in a way that it can easily be retrieved later on.
  • More energy. Children with enough sleep are proven to be more energetic. Therefore, they are able to enjoy different activities on a day-to-day basis.
  • Overall well-being. As sleep is one way of the body to recuperate from stress, children who have enough sleep are less likely to get sick, or catch viruses, compared to those who don't get enough sleep.
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How To Sleep Train Your Child Based On Age

  1. 1
    Newborn (1 - 2 months)
     
    1. Lay your baby in the crib as a preparation to sleep, not when he is already sleeping, but when he is just feeling sleepy. Sleepiness in newborns is normally indicated by crying, rubbing of eyes, and general fussing over the smallest matters. Once you see that, start to put him into the crib.
    2. Put your baby on his back when he sleeps. Ensure that blankets are out of his way.
    3. There is nothing much to do after that, but to let your baby sleep on his own. This is one way of conditioning him to sleep, especially during night time.
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  2. 2
    Infant (3 - 11 months)
     
    1. Develop good sleep patterns by scheduling feeding time properly. Schedule meals in such a way that your baby doesn't won't wake up in the middle of the night because of hunger.
    2. Develop a routine at night that your infant will find enjoyable. Making bedtime a fun time, rather than a struggle will make it easier on both of you, and will be conducive to an excellent sleep.
    3. Allow your baby to sleep on his own. Babies usually have the capacity to self-soothe themselves by rubbing soft pillows or sucking their thumb.
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  3. 3
    Toddler (1 - 3 years)
     
    1. Maintain a firm sleep schedule.
    2. Develop a good bedtime routine, including brushing teeth, cleaning up, combing hair, reading a story, etc.
    3. Allow the use of security blankets such as stuffed toys, pillows, etc. This makes sleeping enjoyable for toddlers.
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  4. 4
    Preschooler (3 - 5 years)
     
    1. Be firm with sleep schedules. This is very crucial at this age because preschoolers are at the age now that they like reasoning out and arguing.
    2. Develop a bedtime routine that encourages your preschooler to be in his bedroom at a certain time. This gets the body used to going to bed at a certain time, and gets your child to get used to it as well.
    3. Ensure that your preschooler sleeps in the same room every night. This consistency is crucial for a life-time of good sleeping patterns.Image:Christinedelacruz Preschooler and Clock 95.jpg|center|228px]]
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  5. 5
    School-aged Child (5 - 12 years)
     
    1. Educate your child about the benefits of good sleep habits.
    2. Continue to emphasize to him there is a need for consistency in bedtime routine. better than telling your child, is teaching by way of example.
    3. Decorate your child's room in a way that it is ideal for sleep. Normally, it should be dark, quiet, and overall cool.
      Christinedelacruz Children's Room 93.jpg
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How To Sleep Train Your Child Using Natural Remedies

  1. 1
    Educate your child on the benefits of sleep.
    Impart upon him the benefits of sleep and how important it is. Don't just impose a rule.
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  2. 2
    Communicate clearly your expectation of bedtime routines and times, and explain why.
    Children are very curious and unless they understand why something should be done, they will resist it.
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  3. 3
    Provide an environment that is conducive to sleep.
    Decorate their sleeping area so that they feel motivated to go there. Play music they enjoy. Surround them with books that they can read until they feel sleepy.
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  4. 4
    Supply them with food that helps in making them fall asleep.
    Milk is the easiest option. A glass of warm milk will immediately soothe your child's senses and make them feel sleepy.
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  5. 5
    Avoid imposing a punishment in case your child misses the schedule.
    The feeling of fear alone will immediately affect a child's ability to sleep. Also, as this entire process involves a lot of conditioning, you don't want your child, in any way, to be associating sleep with punishment, whether directly or indirectly.
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  6. 6
    Make bedtime a ritual.
    Establish a sleep pattern for your child. For example, make sure that dinner every night will be scheduled for 6 pm. Then, after the meal, around 6:30 to 6:45 pm, have the child have his wash up or quick shower; slip him into his pajamas or any other comfortable sleepwear, then set him up on the bed for his bedtime story, and his prayers, if applicable. At exactly 8 pm, lights out (except maybe dim light from a lamp, depending on your child's response to darkness). Kiss him good night, and tuck him in. 8 pm would be an ideal sleep time for your child when he gets used to it.
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  7. 7
    Some children have items that give them security, and make them feels safe.
    For some, it might be an old smelly pillow cover, which can put him to sleep, or a special a special blanket. Some children have their old dolls with them when they sleep, usually unwashed for months, but the old familiar smell lulls them to sleep. Do not discourage them from doing this, but at the same time, do not encourage it. Given the germs that might breed in these security items, you'll have to wash them every now and then. Don't hide it. Let them know you are going to wash their precious item, and make sure you return it to them promptly after cleaning it. Don't promote an item that they end up relying on. It might actually be you, tucking them into bed with the same stuffed animal or blanket each night may actually cause your child to become attached to the item.
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  8. 8
    Involve yourself in the sleeping ritual.
    Read to your children. Bedtime should be a sacred time for all of you. Read books, poetry, sing to them. It will make bedtime a time of love and safety, not of fear.
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Categories : Parenting

Recent edits by: Eng, Rebecca M., Jonathan

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