Children’s quality of sleep is a crucial component in their wellbeing, affecting everything from mood to their ability to learn
When we talk about sleep issues like insomnia and snoring, it’s easy to forget that these aren’t exclusive to adults. Babies, toddlers and youngsters experience them, too. Children might not be able to verbalize specifically about what’s happening with the quality of their sleep, making it even more imperative that parents be watchful for signs of trouble.
When your child wanders into your bedroom in the wee hours of the morning wide awake, it’s clear there might be sleep issues, but often the signs are much more subtle than that.
6 signs your child may be sleep deprived
“Sleep influences health, achievement, performance and overall quality of life in both the short and long term,” says Terry Cralle, a registered nurse, certified clinical sleep educator and health and wellness spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council (BSC).
In children, sleep is a crucial component in their growth, development and overall wellbeing. A study published by medical journal Sleep in an article entitled Sleep and the Developing Brain stated: “The most fundamental requirement for healthy growth and development in young children include: loving support and protection by parents/caretakers, adequate nutrition and adequate sleep.”
According to the BSC, these are the critical signs to watch for in sleep-deprived children:
- Falling asleep often and quickly, for instance, in the car
- Trouble waking a child for school on a regular basis
- Sleeping in on the weekends by several hours
- Rubbing eyes
- Problems in school, including concentration and behavior issues
A child’s mood can speak volumes about their general wellbeing and provide important clues to sleep quality. Frequent bouts of whining, crying, tantrums and an inability to handle stress are important indicators, too.
Children might be short on sleep because of an overly busy schedule or an untreated sleep disorder. The rule of thumb is to consider sleep a “vital sign” – so basic and fundamental to our health, wellbeing and quality of life that it should be addressed at all healthcare visits.
Parents should be on the lookout for signs such as irritability, trouble falling asleep, waking up at night, having trouble breathing during sleep, loud or heavy breathing or snoring while sleeping, problems in daytime behavior, or falling asleep at school.
“If your child has trouble sleeping, talk to your child’s pediatrician,” suggests Cralle. “Any sleep issues including irritability, trouble falling asleep, waking up at night, having trouble breathing during sleep, and loud or heavy breathing or snoring while sleeping, problems in daytime behavior, falling asleep at school should be brought to the attention of your child’s healthcare provider.”
More mood news about sleep and a child’s behavior
Insufficient sleep in children is associated with a higher incidence of behavioral problems. Kids who aren’t well rested often have trouble getting along with others. They’re more likely to have mood swings, struggle with concentrating, feel stressed and experience a lack motivation. Poor sleep in school-age children might result in hyperactivity and poor academic performance. Tired kids are more prone to accidents and injuries as well.
When behaviors like inattentiveness, impulsivity and argumentativeness become recurrent, it’s time to consider lack of sleep as the culprit.
Clearly, sleep is crucial in a child’s life and development. “It influences health, achievement, performance and overall quality of life in both the short and long term,” says Cralle. “The Better Sleep Council believes that sufficient sleep should be a personal, family, classroom and workplace value.”
A new mattress may not solve all your child’s sleep issues – but if they’re sleeping on an old or hand-me-down mattress, it might be worth a second look. What’s the true cost of a good mattress? If you spent $1,000 on a new mattress for your child and they slept comfortably on that mattress for 7 years, the cost of healthy sleep would be about half the cost of your coffee-to-go in the morning…