Between the ages of 4 and 5 years, your children will sleep an average of 10-13 hours every night. They might also nap an additional two and a half hours during the day. At this stage, some kids will start giving up nap time which might allow them to sleep longer during the night.
What should you do when your kids don’t want to sleep? Mostly, parents whose children don’t go to sleep during the night or daytime think their kids aren’t tired. Mostly, the reality is quite the opposite. If your child falls asleep during every car ride, seems tired or cranky during the day and you need to wake them up every morning, it is very possible your child isn’t getting enough sleep. If this is the case, try bestowing healthy sleeping habits. Make an appropriate bedtime that is the same every day and add a “bedtime ceremony” every night before your child goes to sleep (bath time, storytelling etc.)
Nightmares and night terrors -
At this age, your child might suffer from nightmares and night terrors. Keeping a healthy routine can help in these situations - but not always. If these continue, we recommend consulting your doctor.
What can you do as parents?
If your child wakes up from a nightmare, head to them right away and calm them down by reminding them that you’re there and won’t let anything bad happen to them. Remind them it was only a dream, and if it helps, leave a nightlight in their room and encourage them to go to sleep as soon as they feel ready. Check if there’s anything in the room that scares your child and if so remove it.
Night terrors usually occur during deep sleep, so children usually don’t remember them in the morning. They can last up to 45 minutes but they’re usually much shorter. During this time your child might cry uncontrollably, shake, kick and try to push you away, especially if you try and hold them. It’s very important not to try and wake them up! Make sure they can’t hurt themselves and if they stand up, gently take them back to bed. Usually, they will go straight back to sleep. Remember that most night terrors are much scarier for parents than for children so it’s important to remain calm.
Bed Wetting -
Most kids potty train between the ages 2-4 years, but 20% of 5-year-olds still wet the bed at night. Bed wetting isn’t a dangerous medical condition, but it can be a serious challenge for both the child and his parents. There are many reasons children might wet the bed, including:
- Your child might be a deep sleeper and doesn’t wake up even though he has a full bladder
- Excessive or an abnormally large production of urine
- Any other medical condition
There is more tendency for bed wetting if there is a positive family history.
During potty training, it’s very common for children to suddenly wet the bed after a few “clean” days. When this happens, calm them down and go back to diapers for a few nights. If your child has already been without diapers for half a year or more and suddenly wets the bed - make an appointment for your doctor.
Remember! Never blame your kids. Be honest with them and sensitive to what they might be feeling. Encourage them to go to the bathroom before bedtime and not to drink too much in the evening. Keep an eye on bathroom habits during the day. Most importantly- be positive! Never punish children for wetting the bed. Instead, support them and offer positive feedback for dry nights.
Last updated: May 2017
Authors - Judah Freedman BA MED, Dr. Yair Sadaka MD Ph.D., pediatrician, Pediatric neurologist