Understanding children’s sleep cycles and why they struggle with sleep.
Children need to get enough sleep so they can play, learn and concentrate during the day. It is during sleep that their bodies produce growth hormone. This is one of the reasons why young children spend so much time sleeping – their bodies and brains have so much growing to do.
What’s the difference between light sleep and deep sleep?
At every age, normal sleep involves cycles of:
Light sleep is also called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep
Deep sleep is also called Slow Wave sleep.
When you’re in light sleep, sometimes you might not even realise you’re asleep. You can wake easily from light sleep. Light sleep is when you dream. White noise makes getting into Slow Wave sleep quite difficult as the brain tries to process the unknown sound.
Deep sleep is a lot more peaceful and restful. It’s thought that deep sleep is the time when we grow and heal. Someone in deep sleep is hard to wake up and might feel quite drowsy when they do wake up. The Slow Wave Sound Therapy as part of the new Glow Dreaming has been carefully crafted and calibrated by Dr Stephane Pigeon especially for Glow Dreaming to help children and adults attain Slow Wave sleep. This is patent pending technology and cannot be found elsewhere.
Each night everyone adults and children move through repeating cycles of deep and light sleep.
Typically, more of our sleep in the early part of the night is deep sleep (about 80%). Then about halfway through our normal-length sleep, our sleep cycle flips. By morning, about 80% of our sleep is light sleep.
A diagram showing young children’s sleep cycles and how they fluctuate between light sleep and deep sleep
Sleep cycles in babies and children
Cycles of deep and light sleep last 30-50 minutes in babies, then gradually increase in length across childhood.
Some babies and children fall deeply asleep very quickly. Others sleep lightly, fidgeting and muttering for up to 20 minutes, before getting into deep sleep.
Children usually wake briefly at the end of each sleep cycle. This is a normal part of healthy sleep – all children do it. Some children call out when they wake and need help settling again, but independent sleepers put themselves back to sleep. This is where Glow Dreaming is so effective it helps children link through seamlessly between sleep cycles. It is the unique combination of Red LED Light Therapy and the Slow Wave Sleep Therapy that is proving to be so extremely effective at stopping the full waking up of the child during these critical periods of the night.
How sleep cycles change over time
The amount of time we spend in each type of sleep varies depending on our age.
At birth, full-term babies spend about half their sleeping time in light sleep and have shorter sleep cycles than adults. This means that babies are biologically programmed to sleep more lightly and have more awakenings than adults.
The amount of light sleep in our sleep cycle decreases with age. By three years of age, 33% of sleep is light. By the time we’re around 13 years old, only about 20% of our sleeping time is light sleep.
What’s normal sleep for my child’s age
Glow Dreaming doesn’t just keep your child sleeping for longer and in a deeper sleep it also ensures your child quickly falls into that deeper Slow Wave Sleep, the most important sleep for their growth and development. Here it is all three elements Slow Wave Sound Therapy to relax the mind comfort the child and block out distracting background noises, Red LED Light Therapy to stimulate melatonin and provide a feeling of security and the humidifier with the medicinal grade essential oil. The medicinal oil not only relaxes muscles and calms the mind but the water vapour from the humidifier eases breathing and congestion.
Under six months
Newborns sleep on and off through the day and night.
Babies aged 3-6 months might start moving towards a pattern of 2-3 daytime sleeps of up to two hours each. They might still wake at least once at night.
At 6-12 months
From about six months, babies have their longest sleep at night.
Between 6 and 12 months, most babies are in bed between 6 pm and 10 pm. They usually take less than 30 minutes to get to sleep (but about 10% of babies take longer).
Most babies can sleep for a period of six hours or more at night and are waking less. About 60% will wake only once during the night and need an adult to settle them back to sleep. About one in 10 will call out 3-4 times a night. More than a third of parents say their babies have problems with sleep at this age.
Around 85-90% of babies aged 6-12 months are still having daytime naps. These naps usually last 1-2 hours. Some babies sleep longer, but up to a quarter nap for less than an hour.
Waking at night is partly related to children’s worry about being separated from a parent or parents. Overcoming this worry is normal and necessary for all children as a step towards becoming more independent at night.
From 12 months
From this age, children tend to sleep better. Some toddlers start to resist going to sleep at night, preferring to stay up with the family – this is the most common sleep problem reported by parents. It peaks around 18 months and improves with age.
Less than 5% of two-year-old’s wake three or more times overnight.
From 3 years
Children aged 3-5 years need around 11-13 hours of sleep a night. Some might also have a day nap that lasts for about an hour. From about 5 years of age, children no longer need a day nap.
Children aged 6-9 years need 10-11 hours sleep a night. They’re usually tired after school and might look forward to bedtime from about 7.30 pm.
Why choose Glow Dreaming
Glow Dreaming offers not only a 28-day sleep guarantee, but full access to our Glow Sleep Specialists for life. Over the last 8mths we have been collecting parent feedback, on what worked and what didn’t, as well as collaborating with internationally acclaimed experts to create something truly unique. The new Glow Dreaming has taken the world’s most successful sleep aid and made it substantially better.
If your child is struggling with sleep then I truly hope you take the Glow Dreaming sleep challenge. We know what you’re going through and that’s why we are always striving to bring sleep to those who need it most.