Sleep is a mysterious state of consciousness that every human being needs. No one knows exactly how sleep helps the body, but we certainly know that not getting enough is a bad thing. Children often start having trouble getting enough sleep when they get into school. Early mornings, after-school activities, homework, family time – they all tend to crowd in on childrens’ sleep.
What happens when your child doesn’t get enough sleep? You’ve probably seen one of more of these symptoms – appearing sleepy during the day, appearing more wired than usual, behavior problems
(noncompliance, aggression), trouble concentrating, over-emotional or irritable, difficulty with their sleep schedule, increased chance of injuring themselves.
So obviously, a child with sleep problems is an unhappy child. You may even miss the signs of sleep deprivation because you see it as some type of behavioral or discipline issue. Or, you may think they are just not sleeping to get attention. It’s easy to see the symptoms as the actual problem. However, they are just the tip of the iceberg. It can really pay to take a look at your child’s sleep habits. You need to know if they are helping or interfering with your child’s sleep.
Here’s a quick list of some things to check:
Bedtime – Is the bedtime hour consistent or do you allow it to change frequently? Is the routine consistent or does it change frequently? Do you enforce bedtime strongly and consistently, or does your child seem
to come in and out of their room?
Room and bed arrangement – Do you have kids that share a room? If so, do they talk a lot at night or pester each other? Does everyone have adequate personal space to sleep?
Room conditions – Is the air flow good? Is the temperature comfortable and on the cool side? Is the window next to a noisy street or air conditioner, or is it fairly quiet?
Health – Does your child have a chronic health condition such as asthma, allergies, frequent pain, frequent illness? Is your child extra sensitive to sounds, temperature, textures (like scratchy pajama tags or seams), etc?
Family life stress – Has the family been through a big transition lately, or will you be doing so in the near future (moving, new school, big schedule change)? Is there currently martial conflict, separation, remarriage? Has your child been experiencing separation anxiety in other settings (school, day care, etc)? Has their been a recent death, natural disaster to deal with?
If you have a child with sleep problems, this is SO worth your time. You may make connections you weren’t aware of. When you get a better picture of the situation, you will know more about what solutions may fit.
In the next few days, I’ll post a “Part 2” about ways to help your child with their sleep issues. Stay tuned.