Sleep is this week’s Thursday Tip. Staff at Canavan Byrne carry out regular audits/inspections at early years services around the country. One common theme that is constantly recurring is sleep. It may be that adult-led, or parent-preferred practices or clock-orientated schedules are in place.
This is a huge issue where TUSLA compliance is concerned as it regularly contradicts the ‘child-first/child centred approach’ that underpins all TUSLA regulations. Sleep is (and rightly) considered a basic required need and should be facilitated on a needs-must basis in all TUSLA-registered services.
Practitioners are expected to pick up on tiredness cues children display on a day-to-day basis. Those cues should be responded to appropriately to facilitate the need fully. Children should not be denied of the right to facilitated to sleep where this need falls outside of an adult-led schedule.
Sleep – Factors to Consider for Children
Children will require various lengths of sleep at varying times, depending on many different factors, including:
- Developmental stage
- Level of activity
- Emotional states (a tantrum/cry spells can exhaust a child)
- Neurological and physical growth spurts (these happen regularly between age 0 – 4 years)
- Digestion of new food types (when digestion takes more work, the body requires more sleep)
- The previous sleep cycle (where a deep sleep state was not reached fully, or disrupted)
- Presence or introduction of virus in the blood system (fighting virus tires out the body)
- ‘Sleep debt’ (where not enough sleep was gained previously in the previous day or week so the body/brain has to compensate for this)
- Settling process (adapting to new environments takes effort and can tire a child)
- Processing efforts or Processing Disorders (new experiences or challenging experiences take more time to break down and process, which in turn can exhaust a child)
- Weather – an increase in temperature or humidity can increase the need for rest and sleep. The more children sweat (to cool down) the more energy the child uses up, hence an increased need for sleep or length of sleep required.
Be sure to consider the above in your sleep practice at your service to ensure compliance with Tusla. These tips are from Childcare Experts Canavan Byrne. You can also check out the Sleep Area Pack that includes a Sleep Policy, records and any signs that you will require for the Sleep Area at your service!