Sleep is important for everyone, both young and old. As a parent, you already realize how much of an impact sleep has on your child. When your child gets too little sleep, your child is cranky. This is not the only concern that comes to mind, however. When your child is deprived of adequate sleep, it can become a problem with their general well-being.
We will take a look at what sleep deprivation does to your child. We will also consider what you, as a parent, can do to help take better care of your child and reduce the sleep deprivation they are suffering from.
The Impact Of Sleep Deprivation On Children
An unfortunate factor is that many adults find themselves quite used to sleep deprivation. Even though a lack of sleep also causes problems with the well-being of an adult, many tend to overlook this issue and continue with their daily routine. This should never be thought when it comes to your child – children are still developing, and their sleeping routines need to be taken seriously.
One scientific study found that sleep deprivation seems to be an important concern among children aged between five and 18. The study also explained that at least 10% of children have a diagnosed problem with their sleep. Among children with developmental disorders, a prevalence in sleeping problems is observed in an estimated 75%.
There are several concerns that need to be looked at. It has been found that children who suffer from sleep deprivation are more likely to snack on unhealthy foods and their carbohydrate intake is generally higher than children who get enough sleep. This makes these children more likely to develop obesity.
Sleep deprivation is also linked to depression among children. Interpersonal conflicts are also relatively common in children with sleep deprivation. In many cases, an underachievement in terms of academics is another concern that needs to be recognized.
Children who suffer from a lack of sleep may also be more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease.
Recognizing The Signs Of Sleep Deprivation In Children
It is important for parents to recognize when their child might be experiencing sleep deprivation. While it is sometimes possible for a parent to have greater control over the sleeping habits of their child, there are many cases where a child could continue to stay up after “lights out.”
Irritability among children is often one of the first signs that they are not sleeping enough. The irritability would often be accompanied by moodiness.
Also, look out for these signs to help you realize if your child might be sleep deprived:
- Temper tantrums
- Children may also be overactive
- There will usually grogginess after the child wakes up and during the early morning
- The child may also not want to get out of bed when they are woken up in the morning
Also, look out for frequent daytime naps. If your child is suddenly performing weaker in school, then this may be yet another sign of sleep deprivation.
What You Can Do About A Sleep-Deprived Child
The first thing to do when you suspect your child might be suffering from sleep deficiency is to realize how much your child should ideally sleep each day. Here’s a list of important sleeping times to consider, based on your child’s current age:
- Three to five years – between 11 and 13 hours of sleep each night
- Six to 13 years – between nine and 11 hours of sleep each night
- 13 years to 18 years – between seven and nine hours of sleep each night
If your child does not get enough sleep based on the data above, then you need to implement appropriate methods to help reduce the effects of sleep deficiency.
The first and one of the most effective ways to fight against sleep deprivation in children is to develop a sleep schedule. Make sure your child goes to bed at the same time each night. Also, ensure your child gets up at the same time each morning. Setting up a schedule will help to balance your child’s circadian rhythm. This is essential to ensure appropriate melatonin is released into your child’s body as night comes – ensuring they can fall asleep faster.
You should also see what you can do to your child’s room in order to make it easier for them to sleep easier. A dark room is particularly beneficial. See if you can also make sure your child’s room is quiet, cool, and dry. A high-quality crib mattress pad might help. These are all factors that can have an impact on your child’s ability to fall asleep quickly – and to ensure they get enough sleep too.
Caffeine should be avoided at night. Make sure they do not drink coffee or any type of beverage that contains caffeine too late at night. Caffeine will make it harder for your child to sleep and have some negative effects on sleep patterns. Remember to check labels of beverages to ensure it does not contain caffeine.
In addition to these tips, also consider limiting the use of technology when it becomes too close to bedtime. Exposure to computers, the television screen, and smartphones are known to cause problems with sleep. This is because these devices act as stimulants to the brain – when your child’s brain is stimulated too much before they need to go to bed, then their brain will be too active.
This can make it hard for your child to get to sleep. The overactive brain can also make it harder for your child to remain asleep during the night. You can find out more about these tips in this sleep tips infographic.
When your child suffers from a lack of sleep, they are at risk of developing certain health problems. Since your child is growing, sleep deprivation can also become a problem with their mental development as well. Understand what sleep deprivation can do to your child and know how to recognize the signs. We shared some effective ways to help improve your child’s sleep quality and duration.
About the author: Chris Nguyen is the Founder & Chief Editor at Sleep Standards – A health blog all about sleep health. He aims to inspire better sleep and make the world of sleep easy to understand for everyday people. Check out SleepStandards.com to find out more about Chris and his work. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.