Is my sleeping habit bad

Parent info Child does not sleep

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"My child is not sleeping"

How many hours of sleep does a child need?

It is not uncommon for concerned parents to go to the pediatrician because they think their child is sleeping too little. In fact, the need for sleep is age-dependent, but varies greatly from person to person.
Sometimes an infant who is only 4 months old can get by with 10 to 12 hours of sleep a day and is therefore not sick. Adults sleep an average of 7 to 8 hours a day.

When should a baby sleep through the night?

Infants and young children (sometimes up to about 5 years of age) wake up regularly at night, often several times. This happens when the sleep phases change. That too is normal and not pathological. Rather, it depends on how the parents deal with this nocturnal awakening:
Waking up at night does not necessarily mean hunger, but can also only be a normal orientation reaction.


If it is to be feared that sleep is insufficient, a so-called sleep diary should be kept for about 3 weeks.
Every day it is recorded exactly from when to when the child slept, how often it woke up and what the sleeping conditions were (light, noise, heat, when the baby was restless, when it ate, etc.). In this way, the quality of sleep, the need for sleep and, if applicable, causes of disturbances can be determined.
The right sleeping conditions for a baby
  • Only lay your baby down to sleep on their back and without a head covering, even for a midday rest.
  • A sleeping bag (summer or winter version) without an additional blanket is ideal to avoid covering your mouth and nose.
  • Pillows or furs are not suitable as a base, clothing without cords.
  • Smoke-free rooms!
  • Room temperature for sleeping approx. 16-18 ° C.
  • Your baby shouldn't sweat while sleeping: He's fine when the neck is warm but not sweaty to the touch.
  • Breathable mattress cover.
Undisturbed baby sleep
The night should be different from the day. Your baby can tell from recurring rituals that it is now bedtime.


Last evening meal always at the same time. Child always at the same time, but lay awake to sleep. Change your diapers at night in a quiet atmosphere in a subdued light. Don't react immediately to every awakening.

Tips for night awakening in infancy and toddler age

  • Do not take child out of bed immediately.
  • No bright light, but use calming words or bedtime ritual (known song or story).
  • Give a teat or other sleep aid (small cuddly toy or similar).
  • If hunger or thirst is unlikely, do not encourage drinking or eating. Healthy infants over 6 months of age usually do not need a meal at night.

What is a sleep disorder?

Difficulty falling asleep: After going to bed and after the bedtime ritual, a child refuses to be alone in his bed.
Sleep disorder: Regular, frequent (up to 10 times and more) nocturnal awakening and desire for a caregiver.
Symptomatic sleep disorders: In other acute or chronic diseases, they usually disappear after the underlying disease has healed.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS):Numerous nocturnal breathing disorders and mostly snoring with impairment of the daytime well-being and long-term possible developmental delay.
Nocturnal enuresis: Bed-wetting is defined as regular or episodic nocturnal wetting from the age of six.
Night terrors (Pavor nocturnus): Nocturnal startling and screaming, the person concerned does not remember.
Nightmares: Dreams with scary content that the person concerned can describe in detail.
Sleepwalking (somnambulism):The affected person sits up or walks around in their sleep, usually in the first third of the night
does not remember.
Jactatio capitis: Rhythmic movements of the head, sometimes of the whole body, when falling asleep and / or during sleep.
Grinding teeth (bruxism): Rhythmic grinding of teeth, strong clenching of the rows of teeth.

Tips for a good night

  1. Observe regular times to fall asleep and get up. Sleep rituals such as singing a song, listening to calming music, telling a story or the like promote this regularity.
  2. The child is only put to sleep when he is tired.
  3. Going to bed should be fun and not a punishment.
  4. The bed is meant for sleeping. In bed, the children should not read, play, watch TV or let off steam.
  5. There should be enough time between the evening meal and bedtime; light food can have a sleep-inducing effect.
  6. Caffeinated drinks are generally to be avoided for children.
  7. Sports or exciting activities such as television, computer games, exciting reading, etc. before bed hinder a good night's sleep.
  8. Disturbing light sources, noise and extreme temperatures in the child's bedroom should be eliminated or reduced. In short: the ambience has to be right.
  9. Is it possible that your child sleeps poorly at night because the afternoon nap is no longer necessary (determination of the need for sleep)?
  10. At night, a lot of information is processed during the day - dreaming is normal. A child is well rested when it wakes up quickly and is actively occupied during the day.

Ulrich Rabenschlag: Children travel through the night. Sleeping, waking, dreaming - the good night for children. Freiburg i. Br., Verlag Herder, 1998
William C. Dement, Christopher Vaughan: Sleep and Our Health. Munich, Limes Verlag, 2000
Thomas R. Verny: The baby of tomorrow. Rogner & Bernhard, 2004

INTERNET ADDRESSES (see No. 028/012: "Inorganic Sleep Disorders")




Prepared on behalf of the German Society for Child and Adolescent Medicine e. V. (DGKJ)

of the
Pediatric Somnology Working Group of the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM)
Prof. Dr. Thomas Erler, Potsdam, Barbara Schneider, Landshut

© DGKJ 2019. Cover picture: COLORBOX

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