According to Kids Matter, childhood sleep problems are more common than we realize. They have concluded that about 40% of primary age kids have sleep issues and is even higher in early childhood. As adults we know how we feel when we don’t get enough sleep or have a hard time falling asleep every night. At least we are able to verbalize how that makes us feel throughout the day however with children they aren’t able to, so we see it through their actions throughout the day. Sleep issues in children can increase problems with behavioral, social-emotional, and academic issues. A sleep deprived child is either falling asleep the minute he or she gets into the classroom or he or she is moody, restless, can’t focus and easily irritated by the smallest things.
Harriet Hiscock, an Associate Professor, Pediatrician and researcher at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, believes that sleep problems make up the bulk of these issues we see in kids today. Some examples include refusing to go to bed, wanting to sleep with adults, waking often during the night and having a hard time going back to sleep, as well as nightmares, night terrors and much more. The question here is what exactly is contributing to these sleep issues? Hiscock believes it could be the increase in computers and mobile devices in the bedrooms which hinders children from quieting down long enough to reduce their brains production of the melatonin that helps them go to sleep. Another reason is kids are involved in more after-school activities such as soccer, baseball, and gymnastics. Granted these are all great after school activities, but they need to be done in moderation, not several activities one after another. Enrolling a child in more than one activity after school can get in the way of that child going to bed early. When children get a good night sleep, the entire family benefits mentally and physically.
Listed below is a few things parents can do to make sleep time great for their kids:
Have bed time routines so they can wind down and it must not change even on the weekends.
They must sleep in their own beds, not on the couch or while watching TV.
No electronics in their bedroom.
Avoid sugary foods and drinks after 3 PM and before bed.
Teach them how to wind down by watching you do the same consistently before bed.