Strange Sleeping Habits… and how to deal with them!

Did you know that flamingos sleep standing on just one leg? Well it seems it’s not only flamingos who have strange sleeping habits - Research by the makers of “In the Night Garden” (KNIGHT) found that children 5 and under will sleep somewhere unusual three times a month on average.

Some of the more unusual places include the dog’s basket, in supermarket trolleys and face down in their dinner. Some have even fallen asleep while standing up… but I’d bet they were a bit less graceful and a lot more wobbly than a pink flamingo!

Flamingo image

Three quarters of the parents surveyed found the strange sleeping habits of their children so cute they couldn’t resist the temptation to share clips with friends and family on social media… but with the fun came the worry that their child would not sleep properly at night if they had a nap during the day. Two thirds admitting their biggest challenge was getting their child to sleep in their beds at night, saying they had a bedtime battle around seven times a month.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that toddlers get between 11-14 hours sleep, decreasing to 10-13 hours for pre-schoolers but that’s easier said than done though if your child has sleep issues (SLEEP FOUNDATION).

And we all know that its not easy looking after a grumpy, tired child, not to mention having to deal with an over-tired, excited toddler when all you want to do is go to bed yourself!

It’s no fun for your child either. Every function in the body is affected by sleep, and studies show that children with sleep issues have more medical problems such as allergies and infections (TEEL). Longer term they are also more likely to have social and emotional problems, they may have trouble paying attention and learning and sleep deprivation can even be a contributing factor in childhood obesity.

So what can you do about it? Here are a few ideas…

Establish a regular routine, with the same bedtime and wake time whenever possible. An early bedtime, between 7-8pm, works best for under 5’s, and a relaxing wind-down routine with no screen time will lead to better sleep.

A warm bath can help your child relax, and keeping the lights low helps the body to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone. Once they are in bed, reading quietly together or listening to some relaxing music can help them to drift off to sleep more easily.

Make your child feel safe at night… a dim night light may help if your child is afraid of the dark, as well as lots of praise and positive reinforcement when they are brave.

Sleeping during the day can make it harder for children to get to sleep at night, so it’s worth thinking about limiting nap times for children as they get older

If you’ve tried all this and your child is still having sleep problems it may be worth contacting your GP or health visitor, they can offer more in depth advice and support.

Oh, and don’t forget to get an early night yourself… when your child sleeps well they will wake up full of energy and raring to go and you’ll need a good night’s sleep to keep up!