You know, even as an adult, sometimes it’s hard for me to tell when I’m not getting enough sleep. Until I have a fifteen minute argument with my husband because it was his turn to do the laundry and I can’t find my striped socks. Or until I start to cry actual tears of frustration when the bagel from the drive-through is poppy seed and not sesame seed like I ordered. Or until …well, you get the picture.
The point is, sometimes it’s how I’m behaving that clues me into the fact that I might be tired. The fact that I’m weepy or short-tempered or irritated by the smallest things is what makes me finally say to myself, “Oooh… I didn’t get enough sleep last night. THAT’S why I’m acting like a crazy person.”
The same holds true for kids. It’s a rare toddler that will just pick herself up from playing with blocks on the floor and say, “Well, that was fun, but I need a nap,” and head off to her room to crawl into bed. Kids depend on us to set the rules for when they sleep, which means we need to be vigilant about early bedtimes. But every child is different, and even if you think your child is going to bed early, it might not be early enough. Sometimes you’ll have to adjust bedtimes accordingly.
So how can you tell?
Sometimes we have to do a little detective work to find out if our kids are actually as well-rested as we want them to be. Here are my top four signs your child needs to get more sleep!
1. Falls asleep almost the instant he gets into the stroller or lies down in his crib
That’s a pretty sure sign your baby or toddler was exhausted, but just wasn’t able to express it. It typically takes a non-sleep-deprived person 5 to 20 minutes to fall asleep, and that is perfectly normal. So just like if you immediately started snoring when your head hit the pillow, passing out immediately is a big indicator that your baby didn’t get enough sleep the night before.
2. Chronic face-rubbing or ear-pulling
I had a client once who thought her baby had allergies because he rubbed his nose so much. Nope, he was just tired! Almost all the time, poor little guy. Sure enough, once we got him sleeping well, the rubbing stopped.
3. Quick to hit or push
We all know that being tired makes our tempers flare. It’s no different for children. If you find that your child is consistently short-tempered and angers easily, it might just mean he needs more rest.
4. Doesn’t eat well
Baby and toddler bodies can really only focus on one thing at a time. If they are fatigued, their bodies are having a hard enough time dealing with that, and their appetite can be affected. A tired child might pick at food, play with it, or only take a few bites.
Luckily there are things you can do once you discover that your little one needs more sleep. Sticking to a program will help create consistency and great habits, and getting a good night’s sleep will go a long way to helping your child have the energy to get through his busy days!
Maybe you are throwing your hands up in the air, and thinking well that’s nice but my child won’t sleep! If you haven’t checked out The Sleep Sense Program, you may want to. It is designed to help you get your child sleeping 11 – 12+ hours a night. Click the link below to find out how to get immediate access.
Have you heard about the special “Sleepless in America” scheduled to premiere on National Geographic November 30th, at 8:00 p.m. ET? I was recently asked to provide my perspective along with other bloggers in a blog carnival, about the topic of adolescent sleep deprivation. National Geographic’s Channel will be sharing these perspectives on their blog tomorrow, November 25th.
The question posed was: “Do you believe legislation should be passed to start schools later given the data surrounding adolescents and the effects of sleep deprivation?”
Here is my response: When I was a teenager, I remember my parents being so annoyed with my noon hour rising on the weekends. As an adult, it seems like laziness; and we often force tired teens out of bed so they can get to work, or make the most of the day. However what we know now is that this has much more to do with biology than laziness. Young bodies go through dramatic hormonal changes during puberty which seem to correlate strongly with later sleep patterns, both for falling asleep and for rising. Forcing tired bodies to get up and be ready to start high school at 7:30 a.m. some places, seems to be counterproductive to educating our youth. It’s not only concerning for their educational achievements, but many teens are on the roads operating vehicles while sleep deprived. I would suggest that later start times for schools would increase productivity and grade averages, and also decrease motor vehicle accidents.
Good sleep is necessary for our well-being.
That’s it for today.
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