How to manage your child’s sleep when they are ill
As social creatures children top the charts for both spreading and catching germs. Parents know only too well that coughs and colds mean their child will wake more and need comfort and care in the night. Even children who can sleep for England will be kept awake by a fever, coughing or a blocked nose.
So how do you prevent this inevitable event causing long term sleep problems for your child?
Maintain your bedtime routine:
Try and keep up your regular bedtime routine. Having a warm soothing bath helps to relax achy muscles and unblock noses. A warm bath is a great trigger for the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and keeping to your routine will prove invaluable when he recovers and needs to start getting used to “normal” routines again.
Your child will need more sleep:
Don’t worry if your little one is sleeping more at this time, this is nature’s way of helping him fight infection. Let him have as much sleep as possible. In fact the illness itself actively increases his need for sleep to help support and stimulate his immune system.
Keeping close by at night:
He is very likely to need medication or frequent close attention during this period of illness and you may want to sleep nearby in order to keep a close eye on him.
To minimise disruptions to your child’s sleep it is better to do this by “camping out” in his room. If you bring him into your bed, you may set up sleep associations that could prove difficult to reset when he is well again….it will be much easier for you to return to your bed than to persuade him back into his own.
Becoming ill during a sleep plan:
It is not uncommon for children to become ill when you’re in the middle of a sleep plan. Most colds are short lived and it is best to put your sleep plan on hold until he is feeling better. Try to keep up the bedtime routine; this will prove invaluable when he recovers and needs to start getting used to ‘normal routines’ again.
Once he is eating and drinking well and seems back to his “old self”, you can go back to your sleep plan. There is usually no need to go right back to the beginning, you should be able to pick up from where you were when he became ill. After about 3 or 4 nights of perseverance and hard work you should be back on track.