The common expression “sleeps like a baby” means deep, restful sleep. But some children sleep peacefully, while others periodically or every night toss and turn during sleep.
Movement during sleep is quite normal for children. You may see your baby turn, mumble, or smile while sleeping. Sleeping in one position all night without moving is a skill that children learn.
“Moving Babies Wake Themselves up and Have Less Rest”
Night awakenings and other sleep problems are the most talked about topics. If your baby often wakes up at night, looks tired and cranky, you need to discuss this with your doctor. Learn more about the health effects of a baby moving a lot while sleeping. Read at what stages it usually occurs and when to contact your pediatrician.
Is it Constant Problem or During Sleep Cycles
Sleep is a complex process. Life growth, development, healing, relaxation, memory consolidation, brain activity, and revitalization occur during sleep. This applies to people of any age. Lack of quality sleep can be detrimental to health.
When a child’s body twitches during sleep, it sets off circuits throughout the brain. There is a link between infants’ neck twitching during sleep and the ability to support their heads while awake. Twitching in babies in a dream predicts the emergence of new motor skills. The periodic stirring of the child is considered the calibration of the sensorimotor system.
Constant upheavals help to detect health problems.
Causes of Baby Constantly Moving While Sleeping
Short movements, light sleep, and awakenings are normal, especially between sleep states. The frequency and intensity of nighttime restlessness in children vary. They most commonly occur in infants, toddlers, and adolescents. These periods of activity are useful and necessary. Changing positions is important during the night so that our nerves are not compressed.
All children and adults wake up several times a night, usually after the completion of each sleep cycle. There are two main sleep cycles during which we behave differently.
There are Two Types of Sleep:
Peaceful sleep – This type is also called non-rapid eye movement (NREM). It is characterized by deep sleep. It is very difficult to wake up during this type of sleep.
Quick sleep – The cycle occurs about an hour and a half after falling asleep. When a person enters REM sleep, brain activity increases. This means that sleep is not as deep. Activity levels are the same as when you are awake. This is why REM sleep is the stage where people dream.
The amount of REM sleep changes with age. The percentage of REM sleep is highest during infancy and early childhood. In addition to increased brain activity and muscle relaxation, sleep protects the child from damage to heart tissue. Growth hormone, responsible for the physical development of the child, is released during sleep.
Stand next to a sleeping baby and watch him sleep. About an hour after he falls asleep, he will start tossing and turning. His eyelids flutter, his facial muscles grimace, he breathes unevenly, his muscles tense. The child has entered REM sleep. The transition time from deep to REM sleep is a vulnerable period. If the baby does not wake up, he will drift into this light sleep for the next ten minutes. This is followed by falling back into a deep sleep.
Sleep cycles in adults last an average of 90 minutes. Baby’s sleep cycles are shorter, between 50 and 60 minutes.
Babies experience a vulnerable period for nocturnal awakenings about every hour or less.
Causes of the constant movement of the child during sleep
Movement during sleep is completely normal and occurs at many ages. Some children move around a lot in their sleep, but the behavior seems to level off when they reach school age.
Many possible health conditions can lead to more interrupted sleep. If something bothers you about your baby’s movements during sleep, contact your pediatrician. The doctor will assess specific sleep problems and create a treatment plan.
Let’s look at when to pay attention to the quality of a child’s sleep.
1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition in children and adults. It causes breathing to stop and resume during sleep. Symptoms of the disease – partial or complete blockage of breathing from 2 to 60 seconds. When normal breathing resumes, the child may snort or snort. At the time of restoration of the normal functioning of the body, the frequency of changes in body position also increases. The number of such episodes per night can reach hundreds or more.
2. Stress and Other Mental Health Issues
Stress, anxiety, and traumatic events harm sleep, even for adults. Mental health issues lead to more sleep movement and sleep disturbance. Insomnia is a growing problem for children. Difficulty falling asleep contributes to more tossing and turning.
Children may not realize that they are under stress. New or worsening symptoms may lead parents to suspect increased stress levels. Physical symptoms may include bedwetting, nightmares, and sleep disturbance.
3. Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is common in children aged 8 years and older. This neurological sleep disorder causes a crawling sensation in the legs (and sometimes arms). The child has an irresistible desire to move.
Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) is a related condition where symptoms of repetitive limb movement occur during sleep. Many children have RLS, but they can describe how they feel. Children are restless when it’s time for bed or may say that their legs hurt.
Research suggests that restless leg syndrome may have a strong genetic component. Children with sleep tremors or RLS may have difficulty falling asleep. This can lead to daytime fatigue and irritability.
A more extreme example of sleep movement is sleepwalking. Children can accidentally leave the house, so for safety reasons, it is recommended to install a door alarm. Sleepwalking usually occurs between the ages of four and eight, and children usually outgrow it.
Significant emotional or psychological problems do not usually cause sleepwalking.
Most often this happens in the late evening (the first phases of sleep). The child gets stuck halfway between sleep and wakefulness. A few hours after falling asleep, children go from deep sleep to light sleep. It is at this stage that your child wakes up to get out of bed, talk, and open his eyes.
Nightmares occur during REM sleep, which occurs in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Children prone to nightmares often toss and turn at this time.
Nightmares manifest differently for each child but often include frightening elements.
These can be monsters, ghosts, aggressive animals, or people who pose a threat to their safety. In other nightmares, the child may be scolded, harassed, bullied, or mistreated.
You can understand that a child had a nightmare by tossing and turning and mumbling incoherently. Many children feel helpless or anxious when they wake up. Over time, children who have nightmares develop symptoms of insomnia.
6. Оver Excitation
The light emitted by phones, televisions, and other electronic devices delay the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Loud sounds and bright lights stimulate the baby’s senses, causing more tossing and turning.
Children are fun and interesting when everyone gathers at home in the evening. All this leads to noisy active play, which makes it harder for children to get into bed for sleep.
Do not let children watch TV or play video games at least an hour before bedtime. Instead, keep them busy with something quiet, like reading a book.
Movement during sleep is common in children with both acute and chronic disease states. Studies have shown that any disease increases the risk of sleep disorders.
The reason lies in the underlying mechanisms associated with the disease and treatment regimens. With SARS, children toss and turn due to limited airway patency. Childhood asthma also reduces sleep duration and increases nocturnal awakenings and constant body movement.
Helping Baby Sleep Better
You can help kids sleep better with simple bedtime rituals.
What to do so that the child sleeps better:
1. Set Mode
Going to bed regularly at the same time promotes good sleep. The bathing and storytelling routine will help young children feel ready for bed. For older children, the daily routine may include a quiet conversation with you about the past day.
2. Keep Daytime Sleep Short and Early
Most children stop sleeping during the day between the ages of 3 and 5. If your child over five years of age is still napping during the day, naps should not exceed 20 minutes. Sleeping longer and later makes it harder for children to fall asleep at night.
3. Make Sure the Child is Calm
If the child is afraid to go to bed or be in the dark, praise him every time he shows courage. Avoiding scary TV shows, movies, and computer games can also help. Some children with sleep fears feel better when they have a night light.
Everyone Benefits When Baby Stops Moving During Sleep
Many parents experience problems with children’s sleep in the first year of life. The timeliness of identifying the causes of constant stirring in a dream and eliminating the problems that cause them is useful for the whole family.
No matter how your child sleeps, as long as he is healthy and happy, don’t worry if he sleeps differently than others.
A healthy child is a happy family
Sleep is very important for your child’s health and well-being. Children grow and develop quickly. Sleep provides the energy needed for active play and good health.
Good sleep habits start at birth. Children who are constantly moving while sleeping do not rest fully. During the day, they have problems with functioning.
Physical development of the child
Babies double their birth weight by about 5 months and triple by 12 months. That’s a lot of growth in such a short amount of time, and good sleep plays a big part in that.
Sleep problems lead to childhood obesity. Sleeping less than 12 hours a day in infancy is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Lack of sleep due to constant movement can negatively affect their weight.
Sleep and mental development
According to research, high physical activity and nocturnal awakenings are negatively correlated with mental performance. A baby’s brain doubles in size in the first year of life. Children develop quickly and most of their learning takes place in their sleep. Similarly, for older children, sleep is critical when it comes to memory consolidation.
Sleep helps fight germs
During sleep, the child’s body produces cytokines. These are proteins that the body uses to fight infection, disease, and stress. Too little sleep affects the number of cytokines. Children who constantly move in their sleep are 3 times more likely to get a cold.
Studies of children have shown that even bouts of illness are reduced with better quality sleep at night.
A child’s sleep affects the health and mood of parents
Some parents may get up a lot at night. To do this, there must be sufficient support and they can sleep at other times. For others, getting up at night has a major impact on their family life in the long run.
Fatigue due to a sleepless night can prevent your child from paying attention during the day. Sound children’s sleep is the key to the good mental and emotional state of parents.
Up to 30% of children experience sleep problems. Many parents consider constant stirring in their sleep to be harmless. If the child is twitching and sleeping poorly more than three nights a week, be sure to contact the pediatrician. Sleep is as important to your child as proper nutrition.