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Is Your Child Sleeping Enough?

March 24, 2020 • Our Blog • General Health
Poor or insufficient sleep can affect your child physically, emotionally, and academically. Here’s how to detect and address problems with your child’s sleep schedule. A regular sleep schedule and a sufficient amount of sleep is vital for everyone, but especially for growing children. Inadequate or low-quality sleep can compromise your child’s physical development, as well as their behavior, performance in school, weight, and more. As a parent, you always hope that your child is getting good sleep, but if your child isn’t yet verbal — or is secretly losing hours of sleep due to a favorite toy or video game — you may be in the dark as to their actual sleeping patterns. While symptoms like dark undereye circles and frequent yawning are obvious signs of poor sleep, other indicators are far subtler. Here are some tips for determining whether your child is getting enough sleep — and what you can do to help them if they’re not.

Signs That Your Child Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep

While the signs of insufficient sleep will vary depending on your child’s age, there are a number of indicators that appear quite frequently among certain age groups. These include:  
  • Babies and Toddlers: When babies and toddlers are dealing with a lack of sleep, they’re likely to be cranky, fussy, and needy. Counterintuitively, they may fidget or act hyperactive. Further, they’re likely to fall asleep even during short car rides or in other unusual contexts. Snoring with no prior history of snoring can also be an indicator of poor sleep.
   
  • Elementary School Students: Like babies and toddlers, elementary school students may display signs of hyperactivity or an inability to focus when sleep-deprived. You may also notice that your child frequently (and easily) falls back asleep after being awoken in the morning. Your child may also experience a spike in academic or behavioral issues, or even begin to experience night terrors or sleepwalking.
   
  • Preteens and Teens: Like elementary school students, sleep-deprived preteens and teens will have significant difficulty waking up in the morning, will struggle with concentration, and will display symptoms of hyperactivity, nervousness, or even aggression. Additionally, you may notice that they consume excessive quantities of caffeine, act irritable throughout the day, or seem “out of it.”
 

What Parents Can Do to Help Their Children Get More, Better Sleep

As a parent, you can’t force your child to sleep, but you can create conditions that are conducive to sleep. This means making sleep a priority — just like homework and meals, sleep should be treated as non-negotiable. If your child is old enough, talk to them about what the two of you can do to ensure they get at least eight hours of sleep every night, even if it means cutting back on other activities. One activity that should certainly be eliminated is nighttime phone, computer, or video game use. The blue light emitted from screens can make it more difficult to fall asleep, which is why your child shouldn’t sleep in the same room as their devices.

Your Partner in Encouraging Healthy Sleep Habits

If your child is struggling to get enough high-quality sleep and you’re not sure how to help them, reach out to Kids’ Health. One of the leading pediatric practices in the Beverly, Massachusetts, area, we’re dedicated to helping your child reach their best emotionally, academically, and physically — and sufficient sleep is vital to accomplishing all these goals....