Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart-disease, obesity and mental health issues such as depression. 

 

Sleep, sleep, sleep, glorious sleep.  Most of us love it.  Many of us do not get even nearly enough of this good stuff!  Making choices, yes I did say making choices, which deprive us of sleep as adults is exactly that, our choice and we accept the consequences.   However, making choices which deprive our children of sleep on an ongoing, day to day, week to week basis will harm their physical health, their growth, their mental health, their emotional health and their performance in school. 

Standard Sleep recommendations

Children need more sleep than adults, this you’ve most likely heard before…  Just to recap, 0-2 years 13 – 15 hours, 2 -5 years 12 – 14 hours, 5 – 11 years 10-11 hours and 12 – 18 years 8 – 10 hours.  And of course some people need more than others and some people work well with naps, others don’t etc etc.  Also the above recommended sleep hours do not work for everybody on the planet they are merely suggested as optimal for that particular age group.  That said, if your child is sleep deprived, it is extremely detrimental to both their physical and mental health.   How can you tell if your child has enough sleep?

Signs of Sleep Deprivation

Here are some of the typical signs of not enough sleep in both adults and children;

1.    One is always hungry

2.    One is gaining weight

3.    One makes impulsive decisions/choices a lot

4.    One can’t remember things

5.    One has trouble making decisions

6.    One has difficulty with movement – falling over/tripping up a lot

7.    One has rollercoaster emotions

8.    One is often sick

9.    One’s eyesight isn’t quite right, blurred vision for example

10.One has bad skin

Children more commonly might:-

1.    be very hard to awaken in the morning

2.    have a lot of difficulty in concentrating on tasks

3.    perhaps they might even just fall asleep during the day, yes, I’ve had small kids flat out asleep on their desks in my classroom and I didn’t have the heart to wake them up as they clearly needed the sleep.

ADHD or Sleep Deprivation?

There seems to be a constantly growing number of children being diagnosed with ADHD.  ADHD shares common symptoms with sleep deprivation such as not being able to concentrate and falling asleep spontaneously..   I put it to you, are many of these children perhaps merely chronically sleep deprived?? 

How to ensure my child gets a good night sleep?

Routine, routine and ROUTINE!   Each family has its own culture etc so I would never stand on a soap box and preach the ‘perfect’ bedtime routine because each family will need to figure out what works for them.  However, if your child is required in school at 7.30am Monday to Friday, it stands to reason they should be in bed by 9pm at the latest the night before.  Here are some tips that the sleep experts suggest parents implement in their homes:-

1.    Have a set bed time and stick to it every night.

2.    Get up at the same time each morning.

3.    Don’t allow children or teens to drink tea or coffee or sugar laden drinks before going to bed.

4.    Avoid being too hungry or too full before sleeping.

5.    Keep technology out of the bedroom, phones, tablets, TVs etc…  Games, lights and screens keep our brains too busy for sleep.

 

Scary Consequences

Sleep deprived kids are at a much higher risk of having:-

·       Learning challenges

·       Behavioural problems

·       Becoming obese

·       Becoming dependent on drugs in later adult life

 

Benefits of a Regular Good night’s Sleep

Happily though, a regular good night’s sleep will improve a child’s physical and mental health and performance in school. 

Nothing is more important than our children’s health, so be strict on the bedtime routine even if there is an exam in the morning….., chances are your child will do much better in the test anyways with a sound night’s sleep.  Science proves it!

 

 

 

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