Sleep Disorders

Is my child getting enough sleep?

Here are some warning signs that children are not getting enough sleep:
    Trouble awakening and getting up in the morning.
    Crying or becoming angry too easily.
    Unwillingness to behave or follow expectations.
    Falling asleep at inappropriate times (for example, during a movie)
    Difficulty concentrating or performing tasks.
    Difficulty going to sleep at bedtime.

Why is Sleep So Important?

Children and adults who are deprived of adequate sleep are at high risk of serious health problems, including accidents, poor learning at school, poor job performance, depression and other mental health problems, and a poor quality of life.

Sleep is needed for Good Health!

Children up to ten years old need at least 9 hours of sleep every night. When children get less than that, they have trouble paying attention, learning, and just doing everyday tasks. Even teens and adults need at least 8 hours of sleep every night.

Tips to get better sleep:

** Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet. A night-light is OK, but not shining in your child's face!

** Don't over-heat the room. You sleep better when the room is cooler. Get a thermostat that sets a cooler temperature at night, and this will also save money in the winter time.

** Try to go to bed the same time every night. Your child's internal clock will learn to get her sleepy at the same time each night. This includes weekends! (Staying up late, and sleeping in on weekends does a lot of damage to your child's "internal clock"!)

** Getting lots of exercise can help you sleep better, but don't exercise for 2 hours prior to bed-time. This will just "wind up" your child and make it harder to sleep.

** A light snack, such as a serving of fruit, is OK at bedtime, but don't eat too much.

** It's good to establish a routine that alerts your body to know that it is time to sleep. A bed-time routine might include a bath, brushing teeth, soothing music, or a bed-time story.

** Avoid caffeine drinks, like sodas, especially in the afternoon or evening.

                    [Caffeine can keep you awake! (duh!)]

 Physical Problems

Sometimes physical problems such as allergies or large tonsils can cause disturbed sleep, or even sleep apnea (breathing stops for more than 20 seconds at a time). A sleep lab can determine if there is significant sleep disturbance. Check with your doctor if you think this is the case.

Websites that can help with sleep problems:

National Sleep Foundation

Garfield Star Sleeper

© Rick Voakes 1999, Health-bytes LOGO  by Rie Cramer