Friday, February 17, 2006

Sleep problems in young children

The National Sleep Foundation released a press release indicating that children are not receiving the appropriate amount of sleep. Overall, a survey of parents indicated that 69% of all children experience a significant sleep problem one or more times per night. Such problems include snoring, getting up at night, refusing to go to bed, night terrors, or heavy or loud breathing when sleeping. Here are some other findings reported:

  • Children who had TV's in their rooms slept less.
  • Children who drank caffeinated drinks averaged 3.5 fewer hours of sleep per week.

Children who get inadequate sleep are more likely to exhibit a variety of emotional and behavioral problems, such as:

  • concentrating and focusing
  • problems learning
  • moodiness

These children may be misdiagnosed by professionals who misinterpret these problems as manifestations of an attention-deficit or adjustment disorder rather than a sleep disturbance. This seems to be about right, based on my experiences in middle and high school. The press release indicates that most teens are living in a sleep-deprived state; their "moodiness" is simply a manifestation of a lack of sleep.

The press release indicates some tips for a good night's sleep:
-- Develop a regular bedtime routine.
-- Talk with your child about the importance of sleep, and be a good role model.
-- Make sure your child gets regular exercise.
-- Talk with your doctor if your child has any sleep problems such as snoring, heavy breathing, night terrors, etc.
-- Limit sleepovers, as it is typically a time when children get very little sleep.

-- Consume drinks or foods with caffeine.
-- Allow teens to use medication as a solution to sleep problems.
-- Schedule too many weekend activities. Use the time to rest and get caught up on needed sleep.
-- Let your teen drive when tired.

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1 comment:

C-mo said...

Here's another story on how to get better sleep. This comes from a media release I found from the Delaware County Medical Society. Hope it helps.