10 Tips to Help Your Child with Down Syndrome Sleep Better
Is your child anxious about bedtime? Are you struggling to help them settle for bed? Do they sleep in your bed?
Poor quality of sleep can have an effect on the whole family. Research by Rebecca Stores found that children with sleeping problems had worse daytime behaviours throughout the day resulting in aggression, irritability and hyperactivity. It is not hard to imagine that their parents had really high-stress levels.
Another study from 2008 found that 66% of children with Down Syndrome fall asleep in their parents or sibling's bed, almost 20% woke up early and 40% wake up at least once a night. Let's try to understand and get to the bottom of the problem to improve the quality of your everyday life.
Children with Down Syndrome Might Experience The Following Problems:
- Bedwetting at night
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Early morning waking
- Gasping for breath while sleeping
- Trouble falling asleep
Your child might have breathing problems or frequent ear infections which will prevent them from getting a full night's sleep. So, if your child has sleeping problems, it's important to consult your doctor.
Once the medical causes are excluded, it’s time to look at behavioural issues. Let’s not forget that even if sleep is disturbed by medical conditions, improving the routine and sleeping conditions might still help your child sleep better.
Quite often children with Down syndrome experience sleep anxiety which means that they don’t find lying in bed relaxing; for them, it’s frustrating and stressful. This feeling also makes it harder for your child to stay asleep once they settle. It's important to not associate kids bedroom with negative emotions and their room should never be used for punishment.
Similarly, to children with autism and other sleep problems, it is important to create a good bedtime routine and sleeping environment.
Things to Consider In Your Child's Bedroom
- It’s a good idea to lie down in your child’s bed and examine the situation. Is the bed comfortable? Are there any drafts? Can you hear people in the other room or noises from outside? Is the room quiet and calm or are there too many toys, colours, etc?
- Urinary incontinence is often an issue in people of all ages with Down syndrome. It’s important to have a quality, fast-drying bed protection. Remember, that plastic mattress protectors can be crinkly, uncomfortable and most importantly - dangerous. They can cause sweating and are linked to asthma and other serious illnesses. The eco-friendly PeapodMats are really absorbent and warranty a quick bed change which reduces chances of the child waking up.
- Remove blinking lights and other distracting items, try using a blackout blind
- Use a white noise machine or toy to block out other noises
- Keep the child’s bedroom at an ultimate comfortable temperature
- Let your child sleep with their favourite blanket or toy (but always stick to the safe sleeping guidelines for babies under 1 year old!)
4 Things That Will Help You Create a Successful Bedtime Routine For Children with Down Syndrome
1. Children need to know what happens during the day and night. Keeping to a set bedtime and waking time is crucial even at the weekends. A bedtime routine is also important so try to make them last the same amount of time every day. Because children can’t grasp the meaning of time, it might be a good idea to use a timer, pictures or graphs so your child can relate to them.
2. All toys should be out of sight at bedtime so your child is not encouraged to get up and play. It's OK for your child to keep their favourite cuddly toy for bed.
3. The whole family should create a safe and relaxing bedtime so your child feels loved and doesn’t think they’re missing out on something.
4. Try to explain to your child why they shouldn’t wake other family members. You might want to hang a picture on your bedroom door with a moon which means it's still night time and your child should go back to bed.
Creating a safe and calm sleeping space is crucial for a good night's sleep. While creating a successful bedtime routine it's important to consider all things that are important to your family. Setting a bedtime for 7 PM when one of the family members comes home from work at 6:30 PM is not going to work. It might take some time before you will see the results but perseverance is the key to success.
Do you have any tips that made your bedtime routine easier? Let us know in the comments.
Need Better Protection from Bedwetting? Click on the image to learn more!
Sources: www.intechopen.com, www.uhhospitals.org, www.sleephelp.org, library.down-syndrome.org, valleysleepcenter.com, www.tuck.com