Sleeping Through Cold and Flu Season

Sleeping Through Cold and Flu Season

As we head into winter I know a lot of us worry about sleep regressions due to illness.  Almost all my clients ask me how they can keep their children sleeping well even when they are sick.  During illness sleep may suffer a bit, when kids are sick they don’t always sleep well and they often need us at night.  However, there are a few things you can do to help them sleep even when sick and get them back on track when they are feeling better. 


1. Sick Kids Need Sleep

When children aren’t feeling well they need sleep to help their bodies fight off the illness.  They also may not be getting the same quality sleep as they usually do because of congestion, cough or fever. 

  • Stick with their schedule - Children sleep better at the right times, so try to stick with their regular nap times. 
  • They may need an earlier bedtime.  Many kids need extra sleep when sick and this often shows up as being tired before their usual bedtime.
  • Don’t worry about them sleeping too much.  Because they need that extra sleep they may sleep longer at naps and in the morning.  


2. Keep Them in Their Normal Sleep Environment

Often parents take their kids into their own bed when they are sick.  Here are a few reasons I suggest having them in their own crib or bed. 

  • We all sleep better when we are in our own space.  Your child will have more restorative sleep if they are alone in their own bed.  You also need your sleep to take care of a sick child and fight off any germs you are exposed to. 
  • It is a safe place for them. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep in their own space.  
  • They are comfortable in their space.  It is always a good idea to keep your child’s sleep environment as normal as possible to encourage good sleep. 


3. Meet Their Needs to Keep Them Comfortable 

When babies and children are sick they are usually uncomfortable and need extra soothing to sleep well.  I always encourage parents to meet whatever need it is their child has when they are ill. Here are a few things that may help your sick child feel better. 

  • Using a saline solution or shower steam.  This can be a way to loosen any mucus that is causing congestion. 
  • Following that with a nasal cleaning device.  The one I recommend is is the Nose Freida
  • Think about the timing of your medicine so you give it right before they go to sleep.  This will allow your child to sleep longer before needing another dose. 
  • If your baby is young they may need extra feedings at night.  This could be because they are not eating well during the day or to make sure they don’t become dehydrated. 
  • Don’t be scared to give extra soothing at night to a sick child.  Sometimes we just feel yucky and need some extra snuggles. 


4. Get Right Back to Normal When Your Child Feels Better

While it is important to meet your child’s needs when they are sick it is just as important to get back to your old sleep expectations as soon as they are feeling better.  They may protest, but if you set limits right away they will be sleeping well again in the blink of an eye! 


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