ÑHILDREN’S SLEEP PROBLEMS: MOVING THROUGH DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT SLEEP STATES

Posted on December 9, 2009, under Anti Depressants-Sleeping Aid.

All people—children and adults—move through distinctly different sleep states which progress from drowsiness to very deep sleep. In the waking state we are rational and functional. In non-REM sleep the body rests and restores itself. In REM sleep the mind is active again and dreaming occurs (REM stands for “rapid eye movement”—a stage of sleep that is characterized by such eye movement.)

The night begins as the child moves quickly through drowsiness and into deep sleep within ten minutes. Waking a child in deep sleep might be almost impossible—this is the time your child can be moved from the car or your arms into bed without waking.

Deep sleep makes up the next two or so hours of sleep. After about an hour (and again after the next hour), it is interrupted by a brief arousal when the child seems to be sleeping and waking at the same time. Behaviors range from crying out or opening eyes to the more extreme thrashing about. It is during this arousal that confused thrashing, sleep terrors, sleep walking, or bedwetting might occur. Although we tend to think that these behaviors are a result î dreaming, that is not the case since dreaming does not occur until REM sleep

The bulk of the remaining night is spent moving between light sleep and the REM episodes in which dreaming occurs. There is a tendency to wake briefly while changing states—the child checks to be sure all is well, goes back to sleep, and generally doesn’t remember this waking in the morning. Sometime when he wakes during these “arousals” he has difficulty returning to sleep. This is a common cause of frequent waking. If he needs your help to get back u sleep, he will wake you.

It is during this block of time (in the REM episodes) that nightmares occur. If he comes to a full waking while moving in and out of the dreaming states, he might be afraid to fall asleep again.

Near morning he returns to another period of deep, non-REM sleep. Following another arousal comes another, more intense, REM dream episode. After more light sleep and dreaming transitions, he wakes for the day. If the child wakes fully during any of these transitions, he might decide that night is over; he then becomes an early waker. If you decide to wake him (to fit your schedule or in an attempt to alter his) during his period of deep sleep, you will both be left out of sorts.

*12/67/8*

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