I am not one for scare tactics and code red alerts that inspire fear in an effort to grab your attention, especially when it comes to child sleep problems.
However, some recent studies on ADD and ADHD and the link to sleep deprivation are worth noting.
Articles on Child Sleep Problems
A recent New York Times article titled Diagnosing the Wrong Deficit, Vatsal G. Thakkar, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the N.Y.U. School of Medicine, raises the question that perhaps the deficit that is going undetected in children is in fact a sleep deficit.
“For some people — especially children — sleep deprivation does not necessarily cause lethargy; instead they become hyperactive and unfocused. Researchers and reporters are increasingly seeing connections between dysfunctional sleep and what looks like A.D.H.D., but those links are taking a long time to be understood by parents and doctors.”
Last month’s Wall Street Journal reported that more families are seeking overnight sleep studies at hospitals or sleep clinics. Parents are looking to pricey solutions to “diagnose slumber issues like sleep apnea as well as to get at the root cause of behavioral and attention problems”.
The March 25th 2013 article, More Children With Sleep Problems Seek Overnight Tests reports…
“Recent studies have linked sleep problems in children to a host of issues including obesity, learning and memory problems and an increased risk of developing mental illness—particularly anxiety disorders and depression—later in life. The growing number of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism is spurring interest in sleep, too, as sleep problems are common in these kids. As many as three-quarters of children with neurodevelopmental or psychiatric conditions have insomnia.”
Proper sleep for the developing brain is essential. Give your child the gift of healthy habits around this most basic need and an important pillar on the foundation of good health later in life.
Tips for Healthy Child Sleep Habits
- Turn off electronics –If your child is under two years old, the American Academy of pediatrics recommends NO screen time. Postpone tv and computer time as long as you can. Our children will spend a lifetime in front of these things. Give the developing brain as much growth as possible without the exposure to electronics. At all ages NO TV or computer in the bedroom. Keep bedrooms for relaxation and sleep!
- Early to bed reasonable to rise-Children in the US are getting an hour to two hours less sleep than they were 30 years ago. However we are still the same biological animal. Keep bedtimes early. I would have liked my children to sleep until 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. but that is unreasonable. If your child wants to sleep that late either your child is in high school (the adolescent brain takes longer to wind down and longer to wind up in the morning) OR your child is staying up to late at night. Asleep by 7:00 and no later than 7:30 p.m. is a great practice starting at toddler hood and well into grade school.
- Sleep is a health and safety issue– Even toddlers know that WE, the parents, are in charge of health and safety. It is what makes them feel healthy and safe. You need to communicate to your son or daughter that avoiding child sleep problems is a health issue!
It is never too early to educate our children in the basic principles of self care when it comes to health and safety. It is a matter of self respect and self esteem. To help avoid child sleep problems, frame sleep in this way.
We mind the amount of sugar you eat because we want you to grow up healthy and strong.
We mind the sleep you get because we want your brain to grow up healthy and strong.
Keep it simple and keep it sweet AND keep it in your charge. It is part of the loving boundaries we provide to contain their lives.