Kids used to sleep as per their own routine until they had to follow a specific schedule. 4-year-olds are preschoolers, and because of the school routine, they might not get enough sleep that is required to keep them fresh and healthy.
Sleep is an important natural phenomenon. Lack of sleep in kids gives rise to behavioral issues and health risks. Not getting enough sleep disturbs brain development. The learning process among kids decreases and affects physical growth.
If a child doesn’t sleep well, he will become cranky, disturbing the mom’s rest. That is obviously not good for mom’s mental health.
How much sleep does a 4-year-old need?
According to Kidshealth.org, A 4-year-old child should take at least 10-13 hours of sleep, including naps. This can be 9-10 hours of sleep at night and 2-3 hours of nap during the daytime. Or it can be a straight 12 hours of sleep at night. It depends upon your own schedule and preferences.
Signs that your 4-year-old is not getting enough sleep?
Look for the signs that show a lack of sleep in kids. This is what happens when your child is not getting enough sleep.
- When you have to wake him up, and he doesn’t want to! Waking up on their own is a sign that they have had enough sleep.
- When the child becomes so clingy and whiny, he won’t leave you and would keep on crying for no reason.
- As a result of incomplete sleep, he wouldn’t just stop crying. He would throw tantrums over everything.
- A 4-year-old is also a preschooler. Inappropriate sleep affects the learning process so if you notice forgetfulness and difficulty in learning.
- Not enough sleep leads to skipping meals or not taking an interest in eating. The child gets a lot picky and makes puke faces through half meals.
- Another sign is hyper-activeness among children. Good sleep keeps the personality calm and more jolly.
Possible reasons why your 4-year-old might not getting enough sleep:
There are multiple possible reasons behind it.
1- Start of preschool:
It is the most common and obvious reason. My daughter used to sleep for straight 12-13 hours. She used to wake up at around 10 am. But when we got her admitted to preschool, she had to wake up before 8 am, so that was when I started noticing that she was not getting enough sleep.
2- Screen time:
Screen time is a great disturbance in today’s world. kids watch youtube for long hours, and the blue light emitting from the screen disturbs the quality of sleep. Your child will become irritated and wake up several times at night.
3- Uncomfortable sleeping environment:
An uncomfortable sleeping environment like too hot or too cold room, noise, or a messy bed can cause a child to get poor quality sleep.
4- Going to bed late at night:
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” This is true. Going to bed earlier is a healthy choice to make. Kids who go to bed late at night would not get enough good quality sleep.
How to help a 4-year-old sleep better and for longer:
Understand that the key is providing better sleep instead of longer sleep. 10-11 hours of good-quality sleep is better than 13-14 hours of poor-quality sleep.
Every child is different, but these things work well:
1- Create a sleep routine that fits with other activities:
Your child’s sleeping schedule should be set according to the other activities. If he needs to wake up early in the morning, you should put him to bed early.
Say he has to wake up at 7 and your schedule requires him to sleep for 10 hours at night, you should put him to bed at around 8:30, so he can get the required amount of sleep.
Always consider your routine before setting a good bedtime schedule, and aim for at least 12 hours of sleep per day for your 4-year-old.
2- Fix a bedtime routine:
Fixing a bedtime routine will improve your child’s sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
This is tried and tested, whenever I put my daughter to bed at the same time every day, she falls asleep within 10 minutes. On the other hand, she always takes more than half-hour if she is not on a routine.
The time when your child is in bed but not asleep is also counted as bedtime, but he is actually not sleeping, so it’s not worth it.
Fixing a bedtime will cut out wasted time waiting to fall asleep.
Besides fixing a time, the bedtime routine also consists of the activities you do daily before going to bed, like brushing your teeth, a warm bath, or a bedtime story.
No matter what, this thing must not be compromised. Manage the house chores and other activities so they do not collapse with the bedtime routine. It will be difficult, but it’s totally worth it.
3- Teach your child deep breathing:
Teaching deep breathing to 4-year-olds is not a difficult task. You can begin by using bubbles. It can be a fun activity for a child.
Deep breathing relaxes muscles. It lowers stress in the body. Oxygen is released into our bloodstream. Among 4-year-olds and even adults, deep breathing improves digestion. The immunity gets stronger.
4- Better sleeping environment:
You need to create a better sleeping environment for your kid to help him get quality sleep.
- Room temperature
Make sure the room temperature is set according to the weather outside. In case of hot weather, the room must be cool enough to avoid sweating. During cold nights, radiators must work to warm up the room.
Ideally, 20-22°C (68-72°F) is best for sleeping in a room.
- Light of the room
Use a night light in the room. It gives reassurance to the child. The effect of nightmares reduces if some light is left on. A pro tip is to use a yellow light bulb over white or blue light.
- Lavender or chamomile scent
Use lavender or chamomile scent before bedtime for your 4-year-old. Use diffusers to spread the scent. Online stores have diffusers, that release the scent of essential oils in the air.
If you give your child a quick bath before bedtime, add a few drops of chamomile or lavender in the water. This will soothe the kid and give them calm sleep.
5- Use white noise machines:
White noise machines are excellent tools to cut down unnecessary outside voices. Siblings talking or anyone else outside your child’s room can be distracting. White noise machines help in creating a calm environment.
6- Give a massage regularly:
Massage your child regularly. For a 4-year-old, you can choose to do this once or twice a week. It helps strengthen the bond between children and the caretaker. It relaxes their muscles. Massage even helps in better digestion.
Massaging for good 15-30 minutes is a healthy exercise for your child. Make sure to warm up the room a bit while massaging.
7- Give a healthy and light meal at night:
Try to give a light meal at night. Oatmeal, low-fat Greek yogurt, chickpeas, and hummus are good examples of healthy and light meals. Oatmeal is one of the best food items for children. It improves immunity and helps in brain development.
Light meals are easy to digest. Foods that are heavy or hard to digest can do gas, thus making it hard for kids to get quality sleep.
According to medicalnewstoday, these foods help to sleep better.
- Warm milk
- Chamomile tea
- Fatty Fish
- Barley Grass Powder
8- Avoid screens 3-4 hours before bed:
Screen time is a real threat to a child’s growth. It is one of the core reasons for less sleep among children of all ages.
The blue light that emits from screens does not let the brain sleep. It becomes really hard to sleep. Mobile phones, tablets, and other smaller screen devices are the primary sources of this blue light. Make sure to shut such screens 3-4 hours before your child’s bedtime.
It is better to charge phones outside the bedroom. If it is difficult to do so, then at least put it on Do Not Disturb mode.
If your 4-year-old is not getting enough sleep, it can be because of many reasons like screen time, changed schedule due to school, or just being disturbed during sleep hours. You must fix his routine and create a calm and soothing sleeping environment. Focus on better sleep quality regardless of the hours.