One of my favorite pictures of my daughter is one taken very close up of her face when she was sleeping. She was around two years old in the picture. What a beautiful little angel!
Most parents would agree. No matter if your child is a holy terror during the day, at night, just watching them sleep is precious. And then they grow up and get attitudes and forget all about mom and dad and….you know. Ah, but those childhood moments. Watching them sleep. (deep sigh)
Children sleep a type of sleep I envy. Solid, peaceful, restful. Oh, to be a child again! Unless it is a child with a sleep disorder. The older we get, the less sleep we need. And rightfully so. The older we get, the more prone to sleep problems we are. It seems unfair for a child to have such problems. But they do.
Some suffer from night terrors. Some sleepwalk. And then some just kick. Over and over and over. Just about the time, they drift into a deep slumber, they kick.
Let’s take a look inside toddler sleep habits and issues such as a toddler kicking in his sleep.
The Cause of the Kick
It could be the toddler is suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS as it’s referred to. RLS is a neurological movement disorder. A child who has RLS constantly needs to move their legs. Either by simply standing up or by walking. It only occurs when the child is asleep or about to go to sleep.
The timing of the syndrome and the onset being associated with sleep, it is hard for the child to fall asleep. Or even stay asleep. And disruptive sleep patterns can result in other problems during the day.
If your child’s ‘sleep kicking’ is diagnosed as being RLS, Don’t panic. RLS is a treatable condition.
Other Possible Cause
Another type of sleep disorder is Periodic Limb Movement Syndrome or PLMS. It is a condition in which other body parts may flinch during the night, but most commonly are the legs.
The moving limb flinches several times in a repeated fashion and then suddenly stops. It takes only 15 to 20 seconds for the movement to start all over again. It, too, can result in problems such as learning disabilities, behavioral issues, and daytime sleepiness. All of these problems stem from the fact the child is not getting any restful sleep.
PLMS can also be treated just like RLS, and often the two happen at the same time in the child.
A pediatric sleep specialist can diagnose these problems. They can also offer suggested treatment plans and medications to remedy these conditions.
Yet Another Possible Cause
Your child’s internal clock or circadian rhythm may need to be re-trained. A condition known as Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome or DSPS is a conditional problem with the internal clock.
DSPS occurs when a child or even an adult is suddenly forced into a drastic bedtime change. One of the symptoms of DSPS is the inability to control the legs. Thus they kick. Repeatedly.
DSPS can usually be treated and cured without any professional intervention. When a person has been going to bed at 10 p.m. every night for six or more months, and suddenly they go to bed at 8 p.m. DSPS results. The cure is to ease into the new bedtime in 15-minute increments. And not all at once.
A child suffering from DSPS left untreated will more than likely endure the same problems as the other conditions. It is very hard to do what you need to do when you are very sleepy.
Try These Ideas
All of the above conditions can be alleviated by trying a few precautions. A toddler needs between 12 and 14 hours of sleep. If the toddler in question is not getting but 8 to 10 hours, they need an increase in their sleep time.
To keep from causing DSPS to try to increase the child’s time in small amounts. Do so until you feel your child is responding positively.
Also, if the child is in daycare or nursery school, let the staff know about the problems as they may have some very sound information on ways to help.
Also, allow the child plenty of ‘run-down’ time before bedtime. It will allow his body to get the ideal sleep that is about to occur. You may also try rubbing down their legs with some type of muscle pain-relieving cream. Only in small amounts, though, as it can cause a burning sensation.
Limit Certain Activities
A toddler’s muscle and bone structure are constantly in the growing mode. Some of these types of limb behaviors can be due to muscle development. These are more like muscle cramps than muscles twitching or kicking.
However, limiting certain amounts of physical activity may reduce the kicking. Muscles being over exerted may be the culprit.
And don’t forget to keep the child’s room a bit cooler and above all else, noise-free. These are just some simple ways in which the child’s little growing legs can get their needed rest as well.
You may also look into their diet. Sometimes involuntary muscle reactions can be to blame for the kicking. These could result in the child not receiving certain nutrients in their diet.
Bananas, for example, are very high in potassium. Low potassium levels can cause muscle aches and pains. And also involuntary muscle reactions.
Being proactive in their diet and exercise goes a long way in a healthy body and some healthy sleep habits.
Even the worst ‘night kicker’ can be cured. There are many treatments and medications available to cure these sleep disorders. And sleep treatment centers are specifically designed to help in these matters. You might begin by consulting the child’s doctor.
And give them a proper dose of love and affection.