Children, just like adults, can and do have sleep problems although it may be hard to believe. As a matter of fact, sleep disorders or difficulties are common among children and adolescents.
A child may have problems falling or staying asleep (insomnia), physiological problems such as obstructive sleep apnea, abnormal or disruptive behaviors during sleep such as sleepwalking or other symptoms that occur near sleep onset such as restless legs syndrome, and daytime symptoms such as excessive sleepiness.
Also, in the same way not getting enough sleep has a profound effect on an adult’s health; children also suffer these negative effects. Several studies have shown that poor sleep quality and/or not getting enough sleep in children are associated with a number of problems including academic, behavioral, developmental and social difficulties, weight problems and other health problems.
Sleep is essential to your child’s health; your child needs at least nine hours of sleep per night. Not getting this recommended amount on a regular basis can affect your child in significant ways. So, how do you know your child is not getting enough sleep or has poor sleep quality? The following signs may be an indication:
- Less energetic during the day
- Breathing pauses during sleep
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Behavior and mood problems
- Poor concentration
If you notice some of these signs in your child, you might want to improve your child’s sleep time and quality. Here are some of the things you should do:
- Avoid giving your child foods or drinks that contain caffeine, chocolates for example, as this may hinder good sleep
- Put your child to bed when he/she appears tired
- Create and maintain a bed-time routine. Let your child go to sleep and wake up at about the same time every day, including weekends and holidays
- Avoid giving your child large meals close to bedtime
- Make sure there is no TV, video games, computer, or music playing while your child is going to sleep
- Make sure the bedroom is dark and there is no noise