In 2002, an estimated 3. 3 million Canadians reported having
insomnia. The Canadian Sleep Society says sleep problems affect
10 to 35 per cent of the population. So what can you do to make sure
you and your family get the best possible night’s sleep?
Khullar says three things regulate our sleep: cues to our behaviour,
light and melatonin (a hormone) levels. At our northern latitudes,
on bright summer evenings we can limit exposure to daylight with
blinds or curtains. In winter, using a light box during the early morning
may help our bodies adjust to long, dark nights.
a quiet voice will help signal it’s time
for sleep. Babies need to eat when they
are hungry, but regular routines for playtime, bath time and bedtime will help
your infant to settle into a pattern.
Babies six months to a year old need
about 14 to 15 hours of sleep a day:
10 to 12 hours of it at night, plus two
daytime naps of one to two hours each.
Continue the calming bedtime routine
your infant expects. It’s important for
babies to learn to “self-soothe.” You can
help by making sure your baby’s hands
are free to suck or stroke his cheek.
Although routine is paramount at this
age, try to alternate who puts your
toddler to bed. This connects the routine
with sleep itself, rather than a particular
person. At this age, a favourite toy or
blanket may provide extra security—just
make sure they are safe with no loose or
small parts that can choke. Some toddlers
may have night terrors or nightmares.
Immediate and calm reassurance and
physical comfort will likely help them
go back to sleep. A night light may also
be soothing. By age two, many toddlers
one nap once a day, after lunch.
When your toddler begins to crawl out
of his crib, it’s time to move him to a bed,
a change that can be eased by talking to
your toddler about the more grown-up
things he’s beginning to do. Remove all
potential hazards to make sure your
child is safe in his new environment.
Help your child learn that once she’s
in bed, she needs to stay there. A calm,
consistent reminder that “It’s bedtime”
works best in teaching your toddler
that bedtime means staying in bed.
For children aged six to 12, approximately
10 to 11 hours of sleep each night provides
critical energy for learning and playing.
You’ll know your child is getting enough
sleep when she wakes up refreshed in
The Canadian Sleep Society recommends a consistent bedtime routine:
a quiet, dark, comfortable sleep environment; and a sleep-and-wake schedule that
doesn’t vary by more than 30 minutes,
even on weekends. The society also
suggests kids avoid heavy meals just
before bed, although a light snack with
some carbohydrates, like a half of a
small apple or banana or a slice of toast
is OK. Make sure your child gets regular
exercise in natural sunlight. Encourage
your child to avoid napping. Finally, make
time to discuss your child’s concerns
or fears earlier in the day, rather than
Infants and babies
From birth to six months of age, infants
sleep a lot. But the phrase “a good night’s
sleep” hardly seems to apply to their
perfectly healthy (and normal) pattern
of sleeping between two and four hours
at a time. To teach your infant the difference between day and night, keep your
home bright and active during daytime
hours, play most with your newborn
during the day, and don’t worry too
much about the noises of daily life.
At night, reduced light and noise levels
and the use of gentle movements and
Few people think
of sleep in terms
Yet sleep is a
of that process.