On a good day, most toddlers are about as rational as your favorite soap diva. While your toddler isn’t always a mega-handful, take an adequate amount of sleep away and your little one can quickly turn from loving to loaded when it comes to her emotions. Whether she just can’t stay in bed, gets up every hour for a drink or spent the night at her overly-indulgent grandma’s, a lack of sleep can cause an array of issues.
Before you blame a lack of sleep for your toddler’s less-than-stellar mood, consider how much shut-eye is recommended by the professionals. While you might think that a meager seven or so hours sounds like a dream, your young child’s needs are quite different than those of an adult. According to KidsHealth, toddlers typically need between 10 and 13 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. This doesn’t mean that all 13 have to come during the nighttime hours; you can split them between night sleep and daytime naps.
While your toddler can catch up on her sleep during daytime naps, nightly wake-ups can cause a serious lack of shut-eye time. There are a variety of reasons that your toddler may start waking up during the nighttime, many of which are easy fixes. Environmental factors such as bedroom temperature, amount of light and ambient noise can all contribute to lack of sleep from nightly awakenings. For example, if you find that your toddler simply can’t keep her blanket on all night long, dress her in a snugly warm set of pj’s. This may help her sleep through the night, getting an adequate amount of sleep.
If you think that keeping your toddler up until the wee hours of the night will make her tired enough to sleep until mid-morning, think again. When your toddler shows signs that she is sleepy, such as yawning or rubbing her eyes, it’s often time to go to bed. Keeping a young child up won’t help her to get an adequate amount of sleep; it may have the opposite effect and actually interrupt her nighttime rest pattern. A toddler who has trouble falling asleep may need a new bedtime routine such as a bath, a book and a song or even a lovie such as a soft plush animal or blanket.
Lack of adequate sleep in a toddler may result in problematic behaviors. While these typically aren’t outrageous, not enough rest may cause your child to act out, have emotional outbursts or simply go from mild to moody within minutes. A more serious lack of sleep may lead to actual health problems for your child. For example, getting an adequate amount of sleep is one way that can help your toddler’s body fight off illnesses. On the flip side, getting an inadequate amount of rest may lower her immune system. Before breaking into a sweat at the thought of your toddler running into health issues after one restless night, keep in mind that serious problems typically occur only in the more extreme situations in which a child is getting a repeated lack of sleep night after night.