Good, Sound Sleep for Your Child
Making sure your child gets good, sound sleep ensures he or she will have a sound foundation for proper mind and body development.
Consequences of Sleep Disturbances continued...
Chronic sleep deprivation: It is important to realize
that the effects of chronic sleep deprivation are cumulative: daytime
sleepiness increases progressively. This means that even small sleep changes,
over time, will have significant negative effects. Likewise, small changes
allowing a bit more sleep may have similarly positive effects. It all depends
on the type and degree of the sleep problem.
Fatigue: Even seemingly minor sleep deprivation causes
fatigue in children. And for a child, simply being awake a certain amount of
time is over-stimulating and fatiguing, even if she is not engaged in any
activity at all.
Especially during the day, with friends and family, she wants
to be part of the action and so her natural response to fatigue is to
"fight it." That is, she tries to remain awake and alert. This results
in the secretion of hormones like adrenaline, which then cause her to become
hyper alert. She is now wide-awake but exhausted. Fussiness, irritability and
crankiness soon follow. She also cannot be attentive and learn well at this
time. This is why overtired children often appear wide-awake, wired, and
hyperactive. Now you have a situation where she is so pumped up she cannot
easily fall asleep.
Interestingly this also often induces night awakenings. So
don't be fooled by your seemingly wide-awake, not-tired child and put her to
bed later. Putting her to bed earlier is actually the remedy. Sometimes even
15-20 minutes earlier may have a significant impact and be all that is needed.
You may also be surprised to find that a well rested child is easier to put to
Sleep on These
Following are some observations from various studies
illustrating some of the difficulties faced and the behavioral changes in
children with sleep problems (from Wiessbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy
Child and On Becoming Baby Wise, by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam,
- Children do not "outgrow" sleep problems; problems must be
- Children who sleep longer during the day have longer attention spans.
- Babies who sleep less in the daytime appear more fitful and socially
demanding, and they are less able to entertain or amuse themselves.
- Toddlers who sleep more are more fun to be around, more sociable, and less
demanding. Children who sleep less can behave somewhat like hyperactive
- Small but constant deficits in sleep over time tend to have escalating and
perhaps long-term effects on brain function.
- Children with higher IQs -- in every age group studied -- slept
- For ADHD children, improvements in sleep dramatically improved peer
relations and classroom performance.
- Healthy sleep positively affects neurologic development and appears to be
the right medicine for the prevention of many learning and behavioral