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Is Your Child Sleep-deprived? Here’s What Could Suffer

You may be able to function on seven to eight hours of sleep, but children need more. Consider these sleep recommendations from child sleep experts:

  • Newborns—14 to 17 hours
  • Toddlers—11 to 14 hours
  • Ages 5 to 10—10 to 11 hours
  • Ages 10 to 17—9 to 10 hours
Childhood Sleep Deprivation

(fujikama / pixabay)

Lack of good sleep can disrupt normal growth and development and can impact both the emotional and physical health of your child. Sleep disorders in children have been known to lead to underachievement in school, lower cognitive function, depression, and social conflicts. They can also contribute to health problems such as more frequent infections, diabetes, and obesity.

It’s important to monitor your child’s sleep patterns and address any noticeable signs of deprivation.

Causes of Childhood Sleep Deprivation

If your child is suffering from sleep deprivation, the cause could be physical, behavioral, or even a combination of both. The problem could stem from respiratory blockages such as sleep apnea, chronic illnesses, anxieties or mood disorders.

A physical cause to look into if your child isn’t sleeping through the night is SDB (sleep-disordered breathing). SDB is an abnormal respiratory pattern caused by upper airway obstruction. This may come from obstructive sleep apnea, respiratory effort self-waking, and hyperventilation.

Signs and symptoms to look out for include mouth breathing, snoring, and apneas, where your child’s breathing stops and starts. Obstructive sleep apnea may be coming from enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Asthma, weight issues, and restless leg syndrome can also exacerbate sleeplessness.

If your child’s interrupted sleep does not seem to be coming from physical issues, emotional or behavioral factors may be to blame. Children diagnosed with ADHD or autism, or those who have suffered trauma or abuse, are at a higher risk of developing sleep disorders.

If your child isn’t getting good, restorative sleep due to emotional or behavioral conditions, they may also be experiencing nightmares, night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep talking, or bedwetting. These are fairly common and can go along with childhood stress, anxiety, or undiagnosed emotional or mental conditions.

Our modern ways of living may also be partly to blame for lack of sleep in children. Excessive screen time, heavy pressures placed on kids, schedules packed with extracurriculars, and early school days can also be causing our children to miss out on the sleep they need.

Signs and Symptoms

If you are concerned your child may be sleep-deprived, there are signs to look out for. Obviously, excessive drowsiness may be your first indication. Other signs include dark circles under their eyes, inattention, irritability, hyperactivity, depression, mood swings, aggressive behavior and lack of impulse control.

While an overtired adult may move slower, sleep-deprived children can seem to be bursting with energy. Your child may lack patience, become frustrated more easily, throw tantrums, and get into more conflicts at home and at school.

Sleep Management Tips

There are assessment tools available to monitor and identify any sleep issues your child may be exhibiting. Consider using a sleep diary to record sleeping and waking habits. A doctor, nurse, or sleep consultant can work with you to go over your findings, as well as assess any underlying health issues and physical or family history that could be contributing.

If there don’t seem to be any serious physical or behavioral health conditions to treat, developing better sleep hygiene routines may be a huge help to get your child the rest they need. Here are some suggestions for childhood sleep management:

  • Reduce sugar and any caffeine consumed during the day
    We know that sugar, and most certainly caffeine, can contribute to hyperactivity and keep sleep at bay.
  • Avoid later daytime naps
    If your child is sleepier at bedtime, they are less likely to wake throughout the night.
  • Cut down on activities
    Super active lifestyles filled with sports and other activities can create overtired and overstimulated children.
  • Create quiet and relaxing bedtime routines
    Consider nightly reading routines, warm baths, and relaxing music before bed.
  • Beds should be for sleeping only
    It may help to keep your child from eating, socializing, or playing in bed. Get them used to the idea that when they are in their bed, they should be sleeping.
  • Be sure your child’s sleep environment is comfortable
    Attempt to keep your child’s room cool, dark and quiet.
  • Remove all screens from the bedroom
    A lot of research has shown that the light from electronic devices can affect sleep. Blue light can disrupt the natural production of melatonin, and your screen’s brightness levels can keep your child awake.
  • Keep bedtime and waking times consistent
    Stick to routine bedtime and waking times, even on the weekends. Keeping habits consistent can be comforting to your child, and help in managing stress and anxiety.

If you can help your child to get even one extra hour of sleep each night, it could have a noticeable effect on their behavior, school performance, mood, health and well-being. A well-rested child has a stronger immune system, better interpersonal relationships, and an improved ability to handle the stresses of everyday life.

Wondering why your baby won’t sleep through the night? Click here to take a quiz and find out! Interested in learning more about a career as a baby sleep consultant? You can find more information by going to this page.


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Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
babies, toddlers, relationships… and
just about anything else!
My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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