Alanna McGinn: A Good Night's Sleep


4 Common 5-Year-Old Sleep Issues and How to Handle Them

Sleep issues at age 5 are more common than you think.

When your children gets past the baby, toddler, and teething phase, it may seem your sleep problems are over with. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many big kids. Sleep issues among kids around the age of 5 happen more often than you may think.

Here are a few of the most common 5-year-old sleep issues and how you can help tackle them so your child gets the restorative sleep their body needs.

Life Changes or Anxiety

Starting school, friends, changes in their lives, and even scary thoughts can give kids anxiety which will affect their sleep. It’s really important for your child to know you’re there for them. Here are a few ways to build that attachment and ease them into a restorative sleep each night.

  • Get in some quality one-on-one time during the day and at bedtime so they don’t need it when they should be sleeping. Bedtime is the perfect time to build attachment and open communication about what's going on in their lives.
  • Try a lot of open-ended questions and ask them while you’re doing certain activities together, like colouring.
  • Focus on consistency and routine when you’re at home. Children need that structure and need to know that you’re in control.
  • Make yoga a part of your bedtime routine! This is a great way for kids to relax, reduce stimulation and quiet their minds. (And a great book for teaching kids mindfulness is this one: Sitting Still Like a Frog.)

Late Bedtimes

Even though they’re getting older, some big kids still need an early-ish bedtime to avoid being overtired. Moving it up to a 7pm bedtime routine start and a 7:30 "lights out" may help. Or just try putting your child to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal for a week straight to see what kind of results you achieve. Falling asleep is much harder when kids go to bed overtired – and it also contributes to the nightly battles.

Night-time Waking

Even big kids will wake up at night – but there are ways you can help tackle this before it even starts.

  • Cuddling, talking and being available to your child at bedtime builds attachment and promotes fewer night wakings.
  • Remove electronics from your child’s bedroom. Electronics right before bed result in less restorative sleep throughout the night – so be sure to set tech boundaries and limits at bedtime.
  • Try getting them something new – like a stuffy. Explain that instead of calling out for you if they wake up, they can snuggle with the new stuffy and that you will be there in the morning. Talk to them and prepare them for it.

Sleep Apnea & Snoring

If your child demonstrates any of the following signs while they sleep, they may be experiencing a case of sleep apnea:

  • Frequent snoring or mouth breathing (the most obvious sign)
  • Constant sweatiness while sleeping
  • Frequent restless sleep, from basic tossing and turning to as extreme as sleep walking
  • Grogginess upon waking and throughout the day even after a full night of sleep
  • Unexplained bedwetting

It could be that their tonsils or adenoids may be the issue. If your child has enlarged tonsils and adenoids, they may be unable to sleep restfully throughout the night because they are pausing in breath and consistently breaking up their natural sleep cycles throughout the night in order to catch their breath. If your child is showing these symptoms, it’s worth a trip to your doctor. Find out if they need to be referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist (ENT) and you can take the necessary steps from there.

By implementing some of these tips, you can help your big kid learn ways to fall asleep easily and stay asleep all night long – so their little bodies will get the restful, restorative sleep they need.

I provide free child and family sleep support on my Facebook page. I invite you to join our sleep community as I work towards Good Night Sleep Site's mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site and visit me on Instagram and Twitter. Join our movement and #BringBackBedtime.

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