Toddler Sleeping a Lot? Here Are 3 Reasons Why
- The recommended toddler sleep schedule is around 11-14 hours of sleep during a 24-hour day.
- At 18 months, many toddlers experience a sleep regression that can cause them to go from two daytime naps to one, affecting their bedtime routine.
- If your child is sleepy due to a growth spurt or teething, it’s unlikely to throw off his sleep schedule for more than a week or two.
- Most pediatricians say that sleep duration is rarely a concern for toddlers unless you notice your child acting differently when they’re awake.
- The primary concern if your child is sleeping all day is that he might not get deep sleep—especially if you notice signs of fatigue, grogginess, or lack of focus during the day.
If your toddler’s sleeping more than usual lately, it’s usually because of one of three reasons—illness, teething, or a growth spurt.
There are a few possible issues or sleep disorders that can also happen in toddlers, some of which need medical treatment. This is why it’s wise to do some research to ensure your child needing more sleep isn’t a cause for concern.
We’ll discuss what you need to know about why toddlers sometimes can sleep all day, how to cope with it, and when to take them to the pediatrician.
How Much Sleep Do Toddlers Need?
Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2 usually need around 11-14 hours of sleep daily, including naps. At approximately 18 months old (sometimes sooner), children experience sleep regression.
Many toddlers transition from two daytime naps to just one in the afternoon. This can disrupt your child’s sleep patterns, affecting how quickly they fall asleep.
Sleeping more than usual is a part of adjusting to this transition. You can read here for more help on sleep training a toddler.
Is Your Toddler Sleeping Too Much?
Most pediatricians and experts will tell you that too much sleep is rarely an issue for toddlers. Their bodies are rapidly growing, complex machines that rest when needed.
Unless you notice your child acting differently while awake, this doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s sleep-deprived.
Common Reasons Why Toddlers Sleep a Lot
Toddlers sleep a lot for three main reasons: they’re growing, teething, or ill.
Growth and development are the first reasons baby sleep requirements are more or less at different stages of their lives.
This is especially true for newborns and toddlers as their most formative cognitive developmental phases are happening in their sleep during this time!
How Long Do Growth Spurts Last?
In babies, growth spurts are generally quick, lasting only a day or two. In toddlers, they can last up to a week or more.
If your child is extra sleepy due to a growth spurt, it’s unlikely to throw off his regular sleep schedule for more than a couple of weeks.
Teething often causes children to wake up more frequently during the night and take shorter naps. Sometimes cold-like symptoms can appear with teething, like a low-grade fever and excess mucus.
When your child has a tooth coming in, it can cause a lot of discomfort and sleep disruptions. Again, these disturbances generally don’t last more than a few days up to around a week.
Fortunately, there are some ways you can help a teething baby sleep to get you through it.
Babies need plenty of sleep to recover from illness. Similar to teething, it can cause your little one to wake up more often during the night or take shorter naps, leaving them feeling lousy and groggy during the day.
Congestion can block airways, making it difficult for your child to stay asleep or get good rest. This is also why toddlers take frequent short naps when sick.
There are some tips and tricks on how to help your congested baby sleep that can help if your toddler’s sick.
When to Worry About Your Toddler’s Sleepiness
Generally, pediatricians are most concerned with issues that result from not getting enough deep sleep, as opposed to the sheer amount of time your toddler spends asleep.
Look for signs that your child is tired, lethargic, or dragging when they’re awake. This is usually the best indicator of a sleep disorder.
Studies show that children who don’t get adequate sleep are at risk for:
- Decreased cognitive function and lack of focus.
- Difficulties learning or with speech development.
- Problems with controlling their behavior and regulating mood.
- Poor school performance or lack of participation
While it’s common for most children to feel tired at the end of the day, especially if they’re active, you’ll know the difference when your child is experiencing chronic fatigue.
A few sleep disorders can cause excessive sleepiness in toddlers. The most common are sleep apnea, insomnia, hypersomnia, and delayed phase sleep syndrome.
Sleep Apnea affects up to 4% of children, typically from 2 to 8 years old.
Symptoms of sleep apnea in children include:
- Difficulty focusing
- Mood and behavioral problems
- Metabolic issues, including obesity and diabetes
If you have concerns about any of these things affecting your child, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your pediatrician for resources.
Tips and Tricks to Help Toddlers Sleep Better
You can use the following techniques to settle your toddler for a deeper, more reparative night’s sleep:
- Starting a couple of hours before bedtime, employ quiet time and discourage energetic play and physical activity.
- Turn off the TV, tablets, and other devices about an hour before bedtime.
- Follow a consistent bedtime routine and wake-up schedule. Toddler sleep quality depends on developing a solid, natural sleep cycle so that they can experience the necessary restorative properties of deep sleep. You might find starting a baby sleep plan helpful.
- If your child gets out of bed often, anticipate their needs. Make sure they have everything they’ll need, and remind them that you expect them to stay still and quiet in their bed. If bedtime tantrums are an issue, you’ll want to find a solution to this.
- Baths are great for a consistent bedtime wind-down routine. The warm water is soothing and relaxing. Lavender-infused bubbles can help to get your toddler ready for sleep naturally.
- Consult your child’s pediatrician if you’re considering sleep medicine, as this can further complicate natural sleep cycles. Some supplements are also safe for children and provide fewer risks than sleep medicine. Your doctor will be able to offer more insight and resources on this.
- Keep your child’s naps early in the day and short if you notice them disrupting his ability to sleep at a good time at night.
- Talk about safety and comfort. Many parents struggle with separation anxiety in toddlers at night. Take steps to reassure your little one that even though you’re not in the room with them, you’re always home, and they’re safe.
- Try using a night light, mobile, or snuggly stuffed animal (some even sing lullabies) to help your child’s room feel like a safe, comforting place. Check to see if any lights or noises are keeping your child awake.
- Eat the right amount of food at least a few hours before bedtime. Digestion is known to throw off the body’s circadian rhythms and can disrupt your toddler’s natural sleep chemicals in his brain.
- Avoid caffeine. Obviously, you wouldn’t give your toddler a cup of coffee. Still, many parents don’t think about caffeine when offering their child a piece of chocolate or a soda. Limiting sugar and avoiding foods and drinks with caffeine is best for your toddler’s health and sleep schedule.
- Get plenty of natural light during the day. This helps your child’s circadian rhythm, which signals them when it’s time to wind down for sleep.
With just a few of the tips above, your toddler should get enough sleep and better quality sleep too. And if your child is struggling with sleep or sleeping a lot more than usual—don’t stress about it. It’s usually a normal part of toddler development.
However, if your child is acting differently or you’re concerned, it’s best to speak to your pediatrician about it.
Should You be Worried if a Toddler Snores While Sleeping?
Some parents may notice their newborn grunting while sleeping or snoring and wonder if this is normal.
Babies and toddlers snoring occasionally is normal and often caused by congestion from an illness, teething, or allergies. Sometimes, it’s may be a sign of a medical condition that needs to be treated.
Your child should see their pediatrician if snoring is an ongoing occurrence. They may refer your child to a pediatric otolaryngology (ENT) specialist.
What Could be Causing Your Child to Snore?
The most typical causes of snoring involve excessive or obstructive tissue in the throat. This can be caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids, which happen frequently in children.
Inflamed or extra bulky tissue in the throat causes snoring. Still, you need to ensure that your child isn’t experiencing long-term breathing interruptions that disrupt their sleep and can have significant health consequences.
Sleep apnea is the most prominent and serious sleep disorder facing children of all ages.
How Much Sleep is Too Much Sleep for a 2-Year-Old?
Two-year-olds need at least 9 hours of sleep per night and should sleep no more than 16 hours a day.
When it comes to your child’s sleep problems, the same principle applies to older kids. It’s not about sleep duration as much as getting deep, restorative sleep and not showing signs of fatigue while awake.
Why Is My Baby Constantly Moving While Sleeping?
Babies are born with an immature brain and nervous system, which can lead to frequent movement during sleep. Find out what’s typical for a sleeping baby.
Do Newborns Dream? If So, About What?
Newborns don’t dream in the same way as adults, but they experience brain development during deep sleep. Find out what goes through a baby’s brain while they sleep.
A 2-Year-Old Sleep Regression Guide for Tired Toddlers
The 2-year-old sleep regression causes disruptions to otherwise solid sleep patterns because of teething, developmental milestones, separation anxiety, and significant life changes.