During sleep, we go through a series of phases that are made up of two types of sleep: rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep; this is called the sleep cycle.
During the sleep cycle, there are times when your child may be more prone to partial or full waking. It might be useful to keep the sleep cycle in mind when you are looking at a sleep diary. Your child might be waking during lighter phases of sleep because something is different from when they fell asleep (night light is off, temperature has fallen or risen, bedding has moved or teddy has fallen out of bed!)
Nobody needs to tell you that you need to get enough sleep. It is likely that you would do anything for more than a snatched few hours of fretful or disturbed rest, but a lack of sleep can be responsible for mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or physical health problems such as a weakened immune system, reduced brain function, or high blood pressure.
The amount of sleep needed varies by age and is somewhat unique to every child according to their own body and development. There is information on the sleep cycle and a ‘quick reference’ table relating to how much sleep your child needs in the Council for Disabled Children’s Early Support ‘Information About Sleep’ booklet on page 13.