5 Temperament Traits that Keep Kids Awake at Night

Five temperament traits tend to make sleeping far more difficult, including:

Not GettingEnough Z's?
Symptoms of a sleep-deprived child include:
  • "Loses it" over little things

  • Experiences frequent meltdowns

  • Acts frenzied and wild

  • Seems more clumsy

  • Has trouble staying focused

  • Performs poorly on tasks that you know he can do

  • Has trouble waking

  • Craves carbohydrates

  • Picks on siblings

If you're seeing one or more of these behaviors, it is likely that your child is missing sleep.

  • The Intense Child is a living staircase of emotion. This child needs adult help to calm himself and doesn't want to be put down or left alone. He benefits greatly from soothing touch or having a story read to him while sitting in your lap. He requires time to unwind before bed. His sleep and nap times must be protected because, once overtired, he struggles fiercely to control his strong emotions.
  • The Sensitive Child notices everything, from a slight noise, to differences in taste or texture, to changing sights and the emotions of those around him. First, believe your sensitive child when she says something is bothering her. She really can't sleep until the tag is cut out of her pajamas or the TV in the living room is turned off. Having a "nest" to sleep in is particularly important to her. Blankets and pillows need to smell and feel right. Put her bed in a cozy corner, rather than floating in the middle of the room.
  • The Slow-to-Adapt Child has difficulty shifting from one thing to another. This child needs consistent bed and awakening times to help set his body clock for sleep. Preparation is key. He needs fair warning and cues that bedtime is approaching so that he can begin the transition to sleep. Cue him with activities such as dimming the lights, pulling the shades and putting away toys. Changing his pre-bedtime routine is upsetting to him. Build in time for him to awaken slowly in the morning.

  • The Irregular Child is unpredictable; she never falls asleep at the same time of day and easily becomes sleep deprived. Though she seems to resist it, the Irregular Child needs to be gently nudged toward a schedule. Create a routine and provide gentle but firm support to help her move toward regular sleep. Once she has adapted to a schedule, stick with it.
  • The High-Energy Child is always on the move. This child is notorious for his "short window" for falling asleep. Miss this window and his system will charge up again. An unfailing schedule helps him "earmark" that window and wind down his nonstop activities. This is also a child who needs exercise during the day.

    More Resources

    Resources on Kids and Sleep

    What You Can Do To Ensure Good Nights' Sleep

    Are You Preventing Your Baby From Sleeping Through The Night?

    Win The Bedtime Battles

    At the End of the Day

    What all parents need to remember most about kids and sleep is that children are not fighting you when they can't sleep; they are battling their own bodies. You can recognize what your child needs to achieve sleep and, ultimately, teach him to reach that state on his own.

    By understanding the three factors - tension, time and temperament - you can foster an environment that encourages sound sleep and makes it a priority. The result will be enhanced health, productivity and enjoyment in each other's company.