Sleep Problems in Children The Importance of Treating it Early
One may be surprised to learn that 1 in 4 children may have either short-term or long-term problems with sleep. Sleep problems in children should not be ignored because they can interfere with mental and physical development.
You probably wouldn’t be surprised to know that sleep deprived children do not do as well in school as other children. They are also more susceptible to behavioral problems and illness than their peers without sleep problems. So as a parent, it is important for you to do what you can to treat sleep problems in children. Learn to recognize sleep disorders in children. Rest assured, treatment is available.
It can be particularly difficult for the new parent to assess the amount of sleep a baby is getting. So take note that newborns often have irregular sleep cycles. Not only that, but they sleep 16 to 17 hours per day. But, this only comes in periods of 1 to 2 hours in most cases. As your child gets older, your child should sleep for longer periods, but less total time. A preschool aged child will typically sleep 10 to 12 hours daily. An elementary student may get as much as 10 hours nightly. It is okay if each child varies slightly from the above averages. A large variance may be a warning sign.
Sometimes the first warning signs are developmental or behavior problems in an otherwise intelligent child during school hours. One study recently put the amount of children in school suffering from trouble with sleep at night at about 37%. These night time sleep problems in children can vary from nightmares to sleepwalking to sleep disruption to difficulty going to sleep. Even bedwetting may occur. Many kids with ADHD actually have sleep problems. Sometimes the ADHD medication will cause sleep problems.
Sleep problems in children who have trouble maintaining a set bedtime are common for a variety of reasons. The best thing you can do for such sleep problems in children is to stick to a very strict bedtime ritual. Such a routine may include nighttime stories, prayers, brushing of teeth, and bathing.
If you note that your child often experiences nightmares, you may want to stay by your child’s side or lay down with him until he is asleep. Don’t take your child to bed with you, though. Your child needs to develop a routine of falling asleep in his own bed.
You can encourage your child that sleep improves the development of muscles and brain cells. Many children find this to be a strong motivation for sleep. And as much as we hate to admit it, our children tend to grow up to be like us. Your child will do what you do. So make sure you also have regular sleeping habits.
If your child is still having difficulty with sleep, going to a sleep specialist may be the right option. Sleep problems in children can have unforeseen causes, such as anxiety and depression. A specialist will be able to find these causes.
Each child is different, so it can be difficult for a parent to assess sleep problems in children. It may be comforting to note that in most cases an energetic, intelligent, well-behaved child by day is a child who is getting adequate sleep by night.