As a parent coach, one of the most common concerns shared with me by parents is about bedtime. These concerns often include children not staying in their beds, waking during the night, etc. I got to thinking about this topic the other night when I saw a piece on the nightly news about a new study regarding the impact inadequate sleep can have on children.
Over the years, I have worked with many families who struggle with sleep issues. Not only is this frustrating for the parents, but it has a significant impact on their child's mood during the day. Children who do not get the necessary sleep are often cranky and distractable. Think about how you feel after a night of restlessness -- I don't know about you, but I am not much fun to be around.
There has been a lot of research in the area of sleep. You may be surprised by some of the results:
- Researches have found a link between childhood obesity and sleep apnea.
- Some common sleep disorders may be linked to ADHD.
- Lack of sleep may affect academic performance (click here to view the piece by NBC Nightly news -- scroll down to Kids Aren't Getting Enough Sleep)
This tip sheet from The National Sleep Foundation is one of the best resources I have found on the subject of sleep and children to date. It provides in-depth information on how much sleep your child should be getting, suggestions for bedtime routine as well as red flags for sleep problems. Every parent should read this information. It highlights much of what I suggest to parents when discussing sleep issues including:
- establishing a regular, calming routine before bedtime
- limiting television before bedtime (click here for a story regarding the impact of having televisions in their rooms)
- re-evaluating their child's need for naps during the day
- if their child does still need a nap, re-evaluating the length, frequency and time of that nap
So how do you know if your child has a sleep problems and what do you do about them? Click here to find out. If you do feel that your child suffers from a sleep disorder, please, please, please be sure to discuss your concern with your pediatrician. They are able to do pediatric sleep studies to determine if there is a medical cause for the disturbances and provide support and treatment if necessary. Trust me, you and your child will BOTH sleep a lot better.
Does your child have difficulty sleeping? If so, what things have you done to address the problem. Please share your story -- you might help someone else in the process :)